Crystal Palace Home EFL Cup won 2 – 0
The competition that we knew simply as the League Cup has almost gone retro with its lack of sponsorship: it’s now the English Football League Cup. That would have been a good moment to take the name literally and get rid of Premier League involvement, but it’s not where we are, so Saints lined up against Crystal Palace – and with both sides making substantial changes, whilst assuring the world that they really do take it all seriously. A third home game in a week took its toll in terms of attendance, but despite a slow start, home supporters at least got their money’s worth. After Austin had failed to find the target from a couple of presentable chances that were adjudged offside in any event, Long ended up on the end of a clumsy challenge from early substitute Kelly and Austin scored from the spot, possibly after looking around to see if the missing Tadić, or even the present Ward-Prowse, might think it their turn on penalty duty. In the last few minutes before the break, Hesketh threaded passes to Austin and Long but was let down by the finishing of a couple of senior players, and in fact Southampton’s approach play often promised much until the final ball or final shot let tended to them down – and when they got it right, they found goalkeeper Hennessey in fine form. A second goal was long overdue, and it came after another save by Hennessey and miss by Long, this time after being set up by Ward-Prowse; happily Hesketh was on hand to smash home the loose ball and then clearly enjoy the moment of his first senior goal. Alex McCarthy made his Saints debut against his former club and in all probability was actually grateful for an iffy backward header by Fonte that finally gave him some work to do with time running out. On this occasion Saints had looked like they knew what they were doing going forward, but the French system won’t be proven until they do the same against better opposition.
LSSC Man of the Match: Maya Yoshida, unlikely as it may sound. For all their ineffective play, Palace had plenty of big lads to keep the central defenders occupied, and played the last 25 minutes with a robust pairing of Wickham and Benteke up front, but Fonte and Yoshie coped well.