MK Dons Away Capital One Cup
We’ll never know whether Ronald Koeman might have adopted a different approach to the Capital One Cup had Saints still been involved in Euro competition, but as it was he continued to treat it with respect by resting just Pelle amongst the regular starters in his XI to face the absurdly named Milton Keynes ‘Dons’. That meant places for Rodriguez, Long and Lopez (‘Juanmi’) and they proved far too strong for Championship opposition. This was shown as early as the fifth minute when Rodriguez burst forward with purpose, but he must have been surprised at being allowed to carve his way through an ineffective defence and pick his spot just inside the post. Mane was next to profit from the hosts’ generosity after Martin’s dodgy goal kick, with the result that Saints were two up in just over ten minutes. MK seem to have put out a reasonably strong side but they clearly didn’t have any tacklers amongst them as Southampton won all of what seemed to be 50:50 duels in every part of the pitch, and the third goal on 25 minutes was in fact overdue: Long led the charge forward and set up the chance for Mane on a plate. MK defended more stoutly after the break, too much so in fact as a desperate attempt to prevent Long heading home resulted in a clear penalty converted by Jay Rod. I’m afraid Juanmi lacks pace and sound decision making at this stage in his career, and a cross from his own decent scoring position only found a defender, but Saints’ luck was in as the clearance ended up in the net via Long. The scoring was completed by Long when he broke a fragile offside trap and the big screen operator in particular would have been grateful that this was the end of it as there was no more room on his goal-time grid. These games often fizzle out after a rash of substitutions anyway, but Southampton’s were significant as they included Bertrand (back from injury) and Ramirez (‘back from the dead’ according to the singing support, but in fact only back from Hull).
MotM Shane Long, with a personal contribution of two goals and two assists (even if he knew little about one of the goals).