FA Cup 3rd Round Fulham Away Won 0 – 1
Hoedt’s concussion seems to have lasted longer than that of his fellow Old Trafford ‘clashee,’ Lukaku: despite being the one stretchered off, only the United man made the F.A. Cup 3rd round weekend. Along with an injury to Pied, that meant a return for Bednarek at Fulham, following an uninspiring performance in the League Cup against, effectively, Wolves reserves. To be fair, the young man did nothing wrong in a right back position and actually Saints were better than their Championship opponents in almost every role – something that may become more regular if they manage to get relegated! No, let’s not think about that, and you can only beat what’s in front of you, which Southampton managed thanks to a 29th minute strike by Ward-Prowse whose goal-less spell was beginning to rival the recently reprieved Long. There was an element of fortune about the goal as the ball broke nicely for Saints in the area, but an earlier opportunity for Ward-Prowse, a Højbjerg effort saved by Button, a close range header by Stephens that clattered the bar instead of going in and a late miss by substitute Gabbiadini should have contributed to a wider winning margin. Instead it needed a rare clean sheet to take Saints through at the first time of asking, but they did need Fonte (not that one!) and Odoi to waste chances for the hosts in the closing stages, the latter after a mistake by McCarthy who is clearly not the Messiah and could have been a very naughty boy. So something like 5,000 visiting fans went home happy – a surprising number given the present day profile of the Cup, but the sort of following that used to be regular for the doyen of cup competitions.
LSSC Man of the Match: Shane Long, in successive matches! Hard work should be rewarded, but it would help if he could keep finding the net as well – indeed he did here, but from an offside position, and also had an inadvertent assist for the goal.