Burnley 1-0 Saints
Hesketh’s efforts on his brief debut earned him a starting role at Burnley, but an early knock eventually forced him off after half an hour, during which time he had managed to pick up a caution, and also happened to be lying down following the original injury when the home side came close to taking the lead in a goalmouth scramble. On came Ward-Prowse for a belated return and he seemed to exercise some control in a match notable for misplaced passes. OK, it was cold, windy and at times wet, but the performances from both sides barely warranted the scant 5 minutes allocated to them on Match of the Day.
Most of the coverage was of the second half, mainly because it included the game’s two key moments. The first gave Southampton a great opportunity from which to kick on when Boyd brought down Bertrand on the edge of the box. Some of us doubt the wisdom of trusting spot kicks to Tadić after a less than convincing effort in the Capital One Cup, although the player seemed confident enough as he waved a gloved hand to the visiting supporters before stepping up – alas he was found out by Heaton’s dive to turn a not terribly powerful shot past the post.
At least Saints had earned the opportunity in a game short on chances, but it was Burnley who eventually got lucky: a throw in to Southampton was not executed all that well and when Clyne’s hasty clearance was charged down into the path of Barnes, the striker’s shot struck Alderweireld to deflect the ball into an unguarded spot at Forster’s near post as he sought to cover the far side. An ugly goal for an ugly game, and Pellè’s latest caution that threatens to put him out of the big midweek cup game didn’t help spirits. We could still have gone home elated had Clyne’s late shot been straighter or Wanyama’s last gasp header better executed. Four consecutive defeats and five games without a win mean that Ronnie will need to put out a strong side at Sheffield to keep the fans onside.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse – the best of our passers, which doesn’t actually say much.