Saints finish on a high
Saints 3, Walsall 1
Saints set about what they had to do to secure promotion in the last game of the season, against Walsall… and that consisted of ensuring that they didn’t do anything ridiculously silly, and hoping that if the worst came to the worst and we somehow managed a first home league defeat since before Christmas, then Brentford wouldn’t do anything just as silly at Huddersfield.
If all that wasn’t academic enough, it would soon have become so had they made the goals just 6 inches higher. Thanks to some fractionally high shooting and good goalkeeping, Walsall held firm for fully 26 minutes, but then Do Prado, with some style, finished a swift move after the visitors had lost possession.
Connolly followed this up with a neat goal after more good play around the edge of the box, and Saints looked ready to record the sort of rugby score that Huddersfield would have been hoping for themselves. Only the post prevented Hammond from making it three, but in first half added time, Gray fired Walsall back into the game with their first serious effort, but nevertheless the best goal of the game to date. It did seem to raise their confidence levels, while our own team may have lost a bit of concentration in the interval.
Certainly things were taking a somewhat unexpected turn as the Saddlers managed to hit the post and have a goal chalked off for offside before Alex Chamberlain made an appearance in place of Do Prado. He hadn’t been on the field for long before Gray’s fine effort was equalled if not bettered by a superb shot from the teenager that found the same spot in the Chapel end goal, and from a similar position. There should have been more successes to report upon, but Walker in the Saddlers’ goal kept a buoyant Saints at bay almost single handed until referee Sharp brought Southampton’s stay in League One to a highly satisfactory end.
Fortress St. Mary’s had done its job with just two home points dropped since that December 11 defeat by Brentford, but it could do nothing to stop the joyous pitch invasion that does seem a better end to affairs than a lap of honour, no matter how deserved. The team appeared in the Directors’ Box to make the most of the occasion – and why not, as this was the first serious celebration since 1978: in fact they even found a trophy to wave around for finishing second, and it should be of more significance than last year’s Paint Pot Cup.
LSSC Man of the Match: Morgan Schneiderlin who could be a key player in the higher league.
“It was a great day to celebrate. There was a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium and I thought the players played some good football as well.
“It was nice when we came up on the gantry. These are great memories, when you see the whole pitch covered in red and white supporters with great smiles on their faces.
“It’s been great to sit back and look at people’s faces and see how happy they are.
“(Next year) there will be additions, and we’ll look to bring quality in to the club to join an already excellent group of players.”
05 Dickson (Harding 77)
04 Schneiderlin (Chaplow 71)
11 Guly (Oxlade-Chamberlain 58)