Burnley Away Lost 3 – 0
Regular travellers are used to snow and ice for their visits to Burnley, but that was never likely for the season’s opener: instead we merely had to endure torrents of rain that made the new grey and yellow away kit seem attractive in comparison. It would all have been worthwhile had Evans, at full stretch, managed to complete a sweeping early move, but the ball found the side netting instead. Nevertheless Saints were generally the better side in the opening period, although the home team still posed a threat to a defence that we know always has an error in them – an error like the one demonstrated by Stephens who fell over his own feet, allowing Barnes to go on and cross for Wood to sidefoot home. It took VAR to confirm the assistant’s decision that Barnes was offside early in the play, and there would have been complaints otherwise as the flag had caused the more central players to stop. Redmond forced Pope into the only save of the first half which meant Gunn had been untroubled, and although Bertrand had sent a free kick just over, it’s still hard to recall a shot on goal before an horrific mistake by Vestergaad on 63 minutes again let Barnes in, clearly not offside this time, and able to find the target, although with a shot that Gunn should have kept out. That heralded a 12 minute period of what Ralph called losing our way and which saw Burnley running out easy winners. Barnes’ second was a good goal nicely finished, but there were a lot of defenders in the vicinity not contributing very much. Then Bertrand may or not have been fouled when losing possession (not, according to VAR) and Gudmundsson scored with a curling shot from a narrow angle that again found Gunn wanting. Højbjerg was a victim of pre-match illness but he still came on as Saints moved to a back four, while Boufal was a surprise entrant to the fray off the bench, ahead of Djenepo; a couple of penalty box scrambles was all we had to show for the changes, while Højbjerg almost gifted Barnes a hat trick in the closing stages – even he was shown to be error-prone.
- LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse, who I thought was the only quality player on show, Barnes included.