Leeds United 0-1 Saints
A lower than usual number of Saints fans made the journey to Leeds for the Saturday evening fixture, part of a 21,000 crowd. At around £36 entrance for a televised Championship game, United’s pricing policy is controversial, but owners aren’t under any obligation to provide cheap entertainment for the masses. It’s their choice, and had Leeds charged the league’s average price, around an extra 7 thousand would have been needed to generate the same receipts. How it all helps attract new support is another matter.
On the pitch, Saints started by passing the ball confidently but were soon forced back by some incisive moves down the flanks. Thus it was against the run of play when the visitors took the lead on 16 minutes – but with a goal to savour, after Cork’s fine cross was headed back by Lee for Lambert to volley home.
McCormack shot just wide and Davis saved Becchio’s close range effort on the line, but Saints were battling well, with Schneiderlin providing some stability in front of the back four. However Nigel wasn’t happy and at half time he replaced Puncheon with Hammond and introduced Do Prado for much travelled Lee, who had experienced the wastelands of Uzbekistan and south Leeds in the same week.
Whatever the revised tactics were, they didn’t seem very successful as Saints now had an unfamiliar shape and you were never quite sure whether they were playing with or against Guly. Leeds dominated the second half and they must have expected an equaliser when Davis failed to reach a cross but then made two last gasp saves to deny Becchio.
A further good save from Webber and a series of more routine stops left Saints indebted to their keeper as the team managed just two worthwhile efforts on goal in this period. It was clear that only a fourth successive clean sheet would secure 3 points and Leeds have a habit of stealing late goals.
They almost drew level in the closing stages but Davis and the crossbar kept out one effort and the bar alone stopped the follow up before a final shot inevitably hit one of nine Southampton bodies clustered in the 6 yard box.
At the final whistle Davis was mobbed by his own players before Hooiveld celebrated his release from the trenches with a dance in front of the visiting fans. He deserves a song of his own, like Lambert, Lallana, Fonte and Davis. Which brings us to the man of the match.
LSSC Man of the Match: Super Kelvin Davis. In front of him, Schneiderlin performed well while Chaplow put in a tough shift for a hard earned maximum return at a place where it’s always nice to win.
13 Fox (Harding – 55′ )
42 Puncheon (Hammond – 46′ )
19 Lee (Guly – 46′ )