Cardiff Home Lost 1 – 2
Saints welcomed Bertrand back to face Cardiff, which was just as well as we’ve managed to lose three international players from the squad during the January window, and now Ings is injured again – who could have expected that? Our opponents had an idea of how to approach the game and that didn’t include venturing over the half way line unnecessarily. The previous home game, against Crystal Palace, had shown that Saints don’t do well against these tactics and plenty of promising approach play floundered against massed ranks of defenders, with Long’s undoubted industry lacking the bit extra needed to pick the lock – Ings is the best we can offer in that respect, but not for a few weeks apparently. The situation became a crisis when the visitors forced a rare corner on 70 minutes and Paterson headed on for Bamba to ram the ball home. On came Austin and Elyounoussi in due course but with no great expectations generated amongst the home faithful and indeed our only memorable threat on goal in the 90 minutes came from the unlikely source of Valery whose incisive run was ended by Etheridge saving with his feet and Peltier clearing Austin’s follow up. The stadium was emptying fast as the game entered added time, but then Austin headed on Ward-Prowse’s corner and Stephens found himself unmarked at the far post as he became the first of our centre backs to score this season. So having thrown points away in the dying stages at Burnley it now looked as though Stephens would be a new hero… but the game ain’t over until the last defensive error has been negotiated, and on this occasion that error was down to Stephens. From my seat you could see the madness in his eyes as he prepared to deal with a high bouncing ball, and that madness was to play a difficult ball forward, which conceded possession. Saints had plenty of men back, but they weren’t organised and after a poor defensive header and a couple of blocks, the ball fell to Zohore who sent it trickling into the corner. So what looked like three points from three winnable games suddenly became two, and that isn’t the sort of form that will keep us up.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jan Valery, but I’m afraid he doesn’t have the quality that is expected throughout a Premier League team.