Watford Away Drew 2 – 2
A rare injury to Yoshida forced changes for the visit to Watford, but the manager always has a few tweaks of his own to add, including a return for Soares. An encouraging start was rewarded after 20 minutes when Long escaped his marker on the right and when the ball was crossed, it fell nicely for Ward-Prowse who seemed to place his shot deliberately between the legs of a covering defender and wide of Gomes. The goal gave Saints further heart and they rather dominated the remainder of the half, with Long and Hoedt, with an outrageous lob, forcing saves from Gomes. A second goal was required to give the team just rewards for their efforts and it came shortly before the break, again thanks to Long breaking clear, this time on the other flank, and a finish from Ward-Prowse after a telling touch by Tadić. The home side had already replaced Cleverley in the opening period, but their second change at the interval was the crucial one as club captain Deeney returned after suspension and made things extremely difficult for a Saints defence who soon found themselves beleaguered. Nevertheless, the first hour was nearly up and the lead was still two goals when Davis lost possession in his own half; the ball was played through to Janmaat whose shot was turned onto the bar by McCarthy only for it to fall back for Gray to head home rather untidily, but from such a distance that he could hardly miss. Gray was eventually to make way for Okaka, another big forward to add to the problems for Hoedt and Stephens, and the ball only rarely found its way down the other end, but it was still 2-1 to Saints with the clock just about to turn 90 minutes when Watford netted again. You’ll notice that I hesitate to call it a goal as TV shows Doucouré clearly handling to beat McCarthy in a move that made Diego Maradona seem misunderstood, but neither referee nor assistant (or, to be fair, the travelling fans either) managed to notice, and another winning situation was lost. Whether we could have held out for the full five minutes of added time is open to debate, but it would have been nice to have had the chance: you often make your own luck, but this was a particularly nasty way to be denied.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse, for the goals, but Long’s assists didn’t go unnoticed – except perhaps by no less than three LSSC members in row H who between them managed to miss one or other of the goals due to ill-timed toilet breaks.