Saints 0-3 West Bromwich Albion
Before Saints took on West Brom, there was an opportunity to witness a rare Hampshire victory in the County Championship at the Rosebowl. It would have taken a miracle for them not to win, but there was more than a hint of the team thinking they only had to turn up to get the desired result – as it turned out, they were right.
Fast forward two hours or so, and Southampton’s approach to their own game seemed very similar; the visitors did pretty well everything right while every Saints player seemed to have an off day. Only Boruc stood between Albion getting an even earlier goal than the one that put them ahead after six minutes, with Fortune bundling the ball over the line after the keeper had again threatened to deny them.
The home defence were having to work hard to keep the Baggies at bay, with Lukaku posing greater problems than many forwards with a more impressive pedigree, while our own best effort came from Clyne in a respite from his defensive duties.
Ramirez replaced Cork at the interval, but the balance of the game didn’t swing and again Clyne came closest to an equaliser. At the other end, though, it was no surprise when the middle of the defence was opened up once more and Lukaku never looked like missing a one-on-one opportunity. A promising run forward by Ramirez ended with a free kick to Saints but also the end of the Uruguayan’s season as he was dismissed for use of his elbow in trying to shake off Long’s foul challenge.
It remained even, in playing personnel at least, as Fortune raised his arm in the ensuing set-to and also had to run the bath early. It didn’t seem to bother the Albion as Long soon scored their third, shooting through the legs of the on-coming Boruc.
Meanwhile, on the other flank, last week’s man of the match, Fox, was having a nightmare with wayward crosses compounding a poor defensive show, before he became Premier League debut referee Madley’s third red card victim for a challenge that didn’t look good at the time and appeared even worse on TV.
As well as still vital league points being squandered, any hope of unexpected European action via the fair play system also disappeared on a dreadful afternoon for the Saints.
LSSC Man of the Match: Artur Boruc, despite letting in three, including one through his legs. There really was no other candidate.