Wolverhampton Home Won 3 – 1
After Chris Houghton said that his Brighton team had been well prepared to face Southampton only for the coach to change our regular formation, it can’t be a bad thing to keep the opposition guessing. I doubt whether Wolves expected to come up against Josh Sims and in the first couple of minutes they were found wanting when Sims broke down the right and crossed as Redmond stole in ahead of Saiss to tuck the ball home at the near post. The visitors never looked secure at the back but they performed well enough elsewhere on the pitch and were causing trouble long before a 29th minute equaliser which came from a corner, powerfully headed home by Boly. Parity only lasted a couple of minutes thanks to a flimsy offside trap that failed to stop Redmond running onto a pass by Ings from behind the defence and lifting the ball over the keeper. Indeed it could have got much better before the break but Sims shot past either post when sent clear on two occasions. The lead remained precarious as Wolverhampton’s match statistics prove: 69% possession, 17 shots, 9 corners and 505 successful passes. Tellingly, though, only two of those shots were on target thanks to a mixture of poor finishing and dogged defending, and two goals would not have been enough for Wolves after Saints increased their lead after 70 minutes. Crucial for this had been a double substitution on the hour; it doesn’t necessarily mark Ralph out as a tactical genius as a capacity crowd could see that changes were needed, but the boss’s introduction of Romeu and Long for Sims and Ings was proved right, if only because Long scored for the second successive game. The visiting defence were alone in failing to see a normally non-scoring striker hiding in a wide position at a corner, but the ball hardly came directly to him, with Vestergaard tumbling around the penalty spot, but Yoshida kept his head and found the lurking Long who bobbled the ball past Rui Patrício. That goal soothed nerves at St. Mary’s and would have concentrated minds amongst other basement occupants as results elsewhere went favourably.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond – not his best game, but those goals still had to be scored. Overall both Redmond and the team as a whole had played better in defeat to Liverpool, but clubs like ours have to take advantage of realistic chances for three points: Ralph seems to have the knack of getting them to do that.