Saints 1-0 Stoke City
Despite annihilating their opponents last time out, Saints made a change to their starting line-up by bringing in Mané to face Stoke in place of Long. Mané would have been glad of the opportunity, having had his goal in the previous game reallocated to Van Aanholt, who hardly wanted the dubious distinction of contributing Sunderland’s third own goal of that match.
It hadn’t been a perfect performance against Sunderland, with the manager highlighting his concern at a pedestrian start. Things looked a lot better early on against The Potters, with Mané’s cross shot apparently only requiring a touch to divert it in, but Pellè’s connection still wasn’t quite enough.
The game remained in its early stages when Schneiderlin’s shot came back off the bar, but Saints had better luck on 33 minutes when they next struck the woodwork, with Mané providing a good reaction finish after Pellè hit the post following a free kick.
Pellè was again denied by the frame of the goal early in the second period, this time from a header, but Saints were no longer as dominant as they had been before the break. For their part, though, Stoke weren’t threatening to come too close to Forster’s goal, but it was a sensible move to introduce the formidable figure of Wanyama to scare them off.
Maybe Ronnie was expecting the kind of aerial bombardment associated with Stoke teams of the recent past when he introduced Gardos alongside Fonte and Alderweireld for the closing stages, but Saints saw out the game without many alarms and recorded back-to-back clean sheets despite not reaching the goalscoring heights that the previous display, against admittedly woeful opponents, might have led some to expect. Again no complaints, though, as results elsewhere left Saints in second place after 9 games.
LSSC Man of the Match: Graziano Pellè, despite the leading scorer failing to find the net – but he did get an assist for the vital goal and came closer than anyone else to increasing the lead.