Everton Home Won 1 – 0
Inevitably there were jeers as Ronald Koeman returned to St. Mary’s with Everton, but of course RK was responsible for jetting us off to Israel, Milan and Prague, plus Arnhem and that pokey little place in Denmark. I don’t see anyone to blame particularly for the divorce; the Koemans have a career plan that involves moving on at least every three years while Saints, possibly aware of the slump surrounding Gordon Strachan’s ‘retirement,’ were not prepared to have a management team who were not committed to the future. Still, we are where we are, and that was with Claude Puell trying to end a poor run that has seen the team goal-less in Prague, shot-less against Liverpool and winless in the League six weeks. It has been a concern that nothing much seemed to be happening to address a painful lack of goals, but there was a big surprise in the line-up as in came Josh Sims for a debut. The teenager was involved from the very first minute, contributing in the build up and then adding an inadvertent assist for Austin‘s close range header that broke the scoring drought. Of the current top half of the Premiership, only Saints have scored fewer goals than Everton and the visitors threatened rarely in the opening period with a couple of shots that Gueye sent high over the bar, thus emulating Højbjerg at the other end. There was more of a threat after the interval, notably from an edge of the box free kick that Lukaku sent far too high, while they also forced a great save from Forster, albeit from an offside situation. But Saints were the better side and came close to extending their lead but for saves from Stekelenburg and a miskick from Ward-Prowse. I think they could have sealed things early with better bench management, but a coach inclined to caution may have been preferring to wait and to react to Koeman’s changes. Sims lasted until the 84th minute and had led an exciting break spoiled by an inaccurate pass in a debut to remember, but some of the plaudits have exaggerated his achievements.
LSSC Man of the Match: Cédric Soares, who seemed more pleased with the result than most – perhaps his mates who’d made the midweek trip were still jetlagged.