Aston Villa 0-1 Saints
Aston Villa adorn one of their stands with an excerpt from commentary on their European Cup triumph, but it seems out of place with the mood around the stadium these days. Saints left the Midlands having recorded a handy double over relegation rivals, and at half time they were good value for their lead, albeit obtained in controversial circumstances.
Rodriguez was always threatening to deliver from his not often successful role wide on the right, and it was after such a break on 35 minutes that the home defence managed to get themselves into a comical pickle. Just when the panic seemed over, Rodriguez tripped over an invisible leg to earn a penalty and give his manager a headache about how to explain it all away in his post match comments.
Lambert changed his usual technique to fool Guzan as the ball found the net to the striker’s right, and we were on our way.
A half-time change by Villa meant we promptly lost it again after the break and the team were soon grateful to Boruc as well as Benteke’s wayward finishing. It was a pattern that was to remerge in the closing stages after Saints had fought their way back into the game, and Puncheon had struck the foot of the post. The home team’s inevitable recourse to a basic tactic of putting the ball in the danger area ought to have played into the hands of a Saints defence which had Hooiveld replacing Fonte, but it nearly proved our undoing: centre back Baker headed against the bar and Benteke put a loose ball high and wide with Boruc stranded after another good save forced after a poor header by Yoshida.
After five minutes added time, sat out by Shaw who had been stretchered off, an ugly game finally ended with a great result.
LSSC Men of the Match: Artur Boruc and Luke Shaw. Plenty of worthy candidates, but our travellers’ votes focussed on those two, and they tied at 12-each. We asked some other Saints fans to decide (they opted for Boruc), but why not give it to both?