Aston Villa Away
In a week when Aston Villa lost two players to internal discipline and two board members to a row with the Chairman, would they also lose a tenth consecutive match? The signs were there from the start that Southampton would not play their traditional role of fall guy in these situations as it took nearly 90 seconds (1.66% of the game!) before they let the hosts have a touch, and in the first few minutes, Long had a great chance to put his team ahead, but shot against the bar – that was to be the story of his match. It was Long, though, who gave Saints an early lead, heading home unmarked from close range, although admittedly the lack of cover may have been down to his being offside. Villa missed Richardson through injury so there was no-one to put any pressure on the Saints midfield as the team tried for the cushion of a second goal. It nearly came when Van Dijk shot against the post, but a great 60 yard pass gave Long the chance to outpace Lescott and although Guzan saved and sent him wide, Tadić made good ground to be on hand to convert from Long’s pass. That original assist, by the way, came from Bacuna who decided to lump the ball towards his own goal when under no pressure; such is the state of Villa’s season, and as the nation marked the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, they had few, if any, prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune let alone take arms against their sea of troubles. With half time approaching, this was looking like a comfortable afternoon, but some slack defending let Villa have a rare shot at goal and Westwood took his chance in added time. The home side would have given a lot to have had a Wanyama in their side, but Saints didn’t have one either when Clasie came on for the second period. That did nothing to change the balance of play, and after a series of near misses, mostly involving Long, Tadić stroked home his second, and second via a Long pass, in the 73rd minute. Whilst it’s an exaggeration to suggest that Villa scored with their last attack of the first half and their first of the second, with forty minutes in between, it did come as a surprise – again Westwood was the scorer, and again there was a preventable air about, although no-one really to blame. Saints had lined up without either of their leading scorers, Pellè or Mané, but the latter came on for Rodriguez and he was able finally to put the game to bed with a header towards the very end. If only we hadn’t been amongst four clubs to drop points at home to the bottom side, European prospects would be promising.
LSSC Man of the Match: Duŝan Tadić although he may reflect that he had actually played better the previous week!