You half expected a bucket collection before the match at Craven Cottage for fans to add their savings to the Premier League’s £5 million retirement gift to their chief executive. But for one, maybe both, of the clubs, involvement in the top flight’s gravy train may come to a premature end this season – and for the opening quarter of the match, it looked very much as though the suckers would be Fulham, despite their hopes of a new manager bounce. Saints should have been ahead on just six minutes when Gabbiadini ought to have done better with the rebound once Sergio Rico saved from Armstrong. The Scot’s had a good week when internationals are included as well, and he wasn’t to be denied here, firing his team in front after 18 minutes of dominance. Fulham drew level just after the half hour, and it was a rare excursion into Southampton territory, which may explain some half hearted defending, first by Gabbiadini who showed a forward’s interest in tracking LeMarchand, and then by the centre backs who failed to stopMitrović guiding in a header. We’re used to such setbacks of course, but actually being behind at the break was an unpleasant surprise: Sessegnon’s long low cross met at the far post by Schűrrle, with maybe questions to be asked of former Fulham loanee Targett, playing in place of the suspended Bertrand. After McCarthy did well to keep out Mitrović and with their forwards still goal-shy, Saints again had to turn to Armstrong to get back on terms, and he obliged with a terrific shot from the edge of the box, set up by Soares’ neat backheel. You’d have expected the visitors to be the ones to go on and win the game, but more sloppy defending hurt them badly: Hoedt messed around trying to win a throw and conceded possession, but it was a familiar scenario when Fulham found Soares isolated at the far post andMitrović was able to volley in his second. Saints no longer have anyone on the bench likely to change a game, with young Obefemi again asked to do the hardest of jobs, but his late effort was the closest we came to rescuing a precious point.
LSSC Man of the Match:Stuart Armstrong. In truth he didn’t have a brilliant game, but it’s nice to see one of our midfielders looking to be a goal threat.
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