Watford Home FA Cup 4th Round Won 1 – 0
By being drawn against each other, struggling Premier League teams Southampton and Watford avoided any 4th round banana skins in the Cup, but only one could progress. I suspect that Saints wanted success more than our visitors whose web site states they “only just about had enough fit senior players to fill the bench.” Quite possibly, but how many of the missing will become available for their upcoming midweek game? Manager Pellegrino had Long available again and had a recovering Yoshida on the bench; but he probably doesn’t know his best team himself, never mind the rest of us, so this was likely to be as strong as we were likely to be – notwithstanding a critical game due in four days time. An early goal was the reward for ambition, coming from a Bertrand free kick that fell for Long to shoot straight at stand-in keeper Karnezis but Stephens smashed in the rebound from close range. It didn’t really open the floodgates, or even create a hatful of missed chances, but it’s nice (and rare, these days) to be on top, and again to quote watfordfc.com, “the Saints were good value for their lead at the break and were, if anything, probably disappointed they didn’t extend it.” However the wisdom of fielding a first-choice team was questioned even before half time when Bertrand limped off, and there may prove to be other consequences as well. The game continued in similar vein after the interval and Højbjerg fired a good shot against the bar while for the second time in the game Soares came close to his first Saints goal: had Stephens, Højbjerg and Cédric all netted, that would have been three debut scorers in the same game. Anyway goals aren’t going to be hard to come by now we have a new £20m forward, and Guido Carrillo came on for the last several minutes, although to no great effect. Yoshida also made an appearance, rather oddly replacing Boufal and with the management seemingly oblivious to Soares struggling with a knock on the Kingsland Stand touchline… and with important games right on the horizon.
LSSC Man of the Match: Cédric Soares, although an overdue goal would have been nice.