There were rumours that Pellè would return to face Watford, but he only made it as far as the bench. There was a welcome return at the other end, though, with the absences of Stekelenburg and Gazzaniga forcing a comeback for Forster. We had changes in front of goal as well, with Soares and Bertrand restored, but still a place for Targett, preferred to Tadić on the left of midfield. It proved to be a master stroke on 17 minutes when a fine Targett cross was converted by an equally impressive Long header. Until then, Watford’s passing game had shown promise, but the goal changed the balance of the game in Southampton’s favour. Gomes made several good saves and one exceptional one from an deflected Mané effort, but he was well beaten when Mané broke clear – unfortunately the eventual shot grazed the post on its way wide. Saints have been in such control before and although Davis showed Mané how to finish a one-on-one, he was offside and the lead remained slender. Rather surprisingly Mané made way for Tadić after another miss on 70 minutes. This was another coaching triumph, though, as almost immediately Tadić profited from two defenders’ reluctance to tackle him as he slipped the ball under Gomes. 2-0 was still not a reflection of Saints’ performance, and even the belated introduction of Pellè couldn’t inspire a conversion from several chances while Forster can’t have wished for an easier return. After so many recent disappointments, this was a very satisfactory night, but there were many empty seats for the middle one of three home games in a week.
LSSC Man of the Match: Shane Long for a fine finish and an energetic display which left him too tired to score in added time – of course he may have to sit out the next game if Pellè is restored to the starting line-up.