London Saints

Out of jail at the death

You turn your back for 90 minutes, and what happens? They only go and lose to the bottom team. I must admit that my absence at Doncaster was not as important as being without Chaplow and Lambert, but Rickie returned to face Blackpool. Just as well. Davies, equally crucially, missed out because of injury and unfortunately Bialkowski on this occasion proved to be a less than reliable deputy.

Problems were there from the opening minutes as the keeper spilled a low cross and we were happy to see the ball trickle behind for a corner rather than into the net. Then came a ‘hands free’ parry with his chest as Sylvestre’s shot caused unexpected difficulties, but shortly afterwards Saints took the lead, and there didn’t seem to be a need to worry any more . The goal has to be credited to Lambert, although the ball took a fortuitous deflection to take it past Gilks. A second should have followed swiftly but Gilks beat away Lambert’s volley when a goal was the more likely outcome and an entertaining game (helped somewhat by dubious defending) was going to plan.

Then the Saints backline joined the fun by appealing for offside instead of marking Basham, who was certainly onside, and who headed the equaliser. In fact the half could have ended disastrously when Phillips shot against the post with Bialkowski strangely static. Ah yes, back to him. Within five minutes of the restart, McManaman sent in a tame shot straight at the Pole, but Bartie hadn’t clung onto anything in the first half and now he managed to let this effort through his legs and just over the line in a dreadful moment that has probably already gone viral on YouTube.

DeRidder and Harding were introduced with plenty of time to make a difference, and Do Prado ought to have levelled the scores with a header that would have set up a dramatic finish. Indeed, we did get just that with five minutes of added time available to at least salvage a draw. Firstly, Schneiderlin’s desperate attempts to gain a penalty didn’t fool me, or referee Eltringham – who I found to be very competent, even if around 22,000 seemed to disagree. Saints still managed to escape with something though, almost on the eve of the anniversary of  their last home League defeat: Richardson’s inviting cross was converted by Lambert, but the run of home wins has now come to an end. Well it had to happen some time, and let’s hope no-one (on our side, anyway) has a ‘Bartie’ afternoon at Fratton Park.

 LSSC Man of the Match: Rickie Lambert, although had he buried the chance to put us two up, he might have saved our goalkeeper’s blushes.

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