West Brom Home Won 1 – 0
The latest attempt to make the Southampton attack more potent involved swapping Davis for Redmond and moving Tadić to what used to be called an inside forward position. That meant an narrower style, but there’s no problem with that as the team already top the charts in terms of crosses, despite not having the players to take advantage. Against West Brom a new ploy emerged with the players trying to find crucial space by exchanging short passes around the edge of the box. There seemed to be mixed views about how effective that was, and a wonky kick off time gave me a chance to hear a similar spread of opinions from further afield on the way home via local radio: some content, others still to be convinced. The evidence either way is mixed: 20 shots, with six on target is good, but a Bertrand free kick that hit the bar was the only first half effort that you really thought was going in. Then what do we make of the second half? Radio Solent’s correspondents couldn’t make up their minds whether the performance was better before or after the break; we did fashion a very good chance for Tadić, foiled by some excellent goalkeeping, but then let Rodriguez have (and squander) the best opportunity of the game before a succession of handling errors by Forster threatened to gift the points to distinctly unadventurous opponents. Oh yes, we also had a goal! And what a goal!! Back on the radio, people were calling it worthy of Matt LeTiss, but Mattie never had any intention of running as far as substitute Boufal did just to score. Those with long memories will instead go back to a 1971 match against Coventry City and a moment described thus in the definitive history of the club, In That Number: “Channon started his run ten yards inside his own half and left four defenders in his wake before cracking in a shot from 12 yards; a glorious goal that lit up a mundane game.” It might have been written not about Micky but Boufal’s finest hour (to date) and if anything underplays the distance covered and players beaten by Boufal as he seemed to take out three with just one swivel,.. but the last bit remained very true. Saints had nine minutes, including added time, to run the clock down, which they did comfortably as injury reduced the visitors to ten men.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mario Lemina. On the radio (again) Dave Merrington seemed to compare him with Shane Long, which seemed particularly bizarre.