Manchester United Away Saints see of the Devils Again
As has been previously noted, there’s no sentiment in the Koeman brothers’ team selections, so last week’s hero, Ward-Prowse, was dropped against Manchester United as Clasie returned. That was despite losing Davis through injury and the Saints midfield had an untidy look, with Tadić and Targett both occupying left side positions ahead of Bertrand in what was described as a ‘back three,’ although it seemed more complicated than that. Still, the players seemed to understand what they had to do… which is more than you could say for the troubled hosts in the opening half as they failed to create anything more threatening than a couple of long range efforts, one straight at Forster and the other well wide. Saints on their travels don’t have the same pressures as United at Old Trafford, but there was disappointment when Mané rather fell over his feet rather than convert the game’s one serious opportunity before the turnaround, set up by Tadić. Mata replaced Fellaini at half time, which gave his team a better shape, but Rooney could have spent his afternoon more profitably signing shirts in the shop and as the game moved on, Saints began to seem the more likely side to score, albeit with 0-0 remaining the most likely result. A double substitution introduced Ward-Prowse and Romeu but it was Ronald’s last throw of the dice that was to prove decisive, sending on Austin for his Saints debut with ten minutes remaining. As the clock began to wind down, Austin won a free kick near the corner flag, and Van Dijk and Long had both threatened from corners without making a true connection. Now with Darmian off injured and Smalling mostly concerned with keeping his tugs at Van Dijk’s shirt out of the referee’s gaze, Austin found space to produce a solid header from Ward-Prowse’s perfect delivery and give Saints the lead. The press have reported that the goal was greeted with boos directed at United’s management, but only cheers could be heard amongst the Saints contingent, with the suspicion that they were matched by the sound of seats tipping up as the Theatre of Dreams emptied. Five minutes of added time produced the game’s only scare for Saints but Januzaj shot wide and Saints had a very presentable chance of their own at the other end as the game belatedly opened up. It’s not every day that you win at Old Trafford – just once a year.
LSSC Man of the Match: Shane Long. After coming close in recent weeks, this wasn’t a difficult decision as no-one worked harder for the win than Long