Sunderland 1-1 Saints
Not surprisingly Saints were largely unchanged as they sought that elusive 40th league point at Sunderland, but there was a return for Schneiderlin.
The Frenchman played his part in a midfield that dominated possession, but admittedly created few chances in a first half that certainly saw the home side showing why they were still involved in the relegation shake-up. But there was one very clear opportunity, which fell to Lambert of all people – Rickie seemed surprised at the way his first touch was so good that it presented him with a close range shooting opportunity with no defender nearby, and unfortunately his effort only ended up trickling towards Mignolet.
The keeper was more involved after the break, with several saves which you would have expected him to make, but were nevertheless stretching.
Boruc, in contrast, was largely untroubled, but he was the first of the two to be beaten – a well struck shot from right back Bardsley finding the corner, with TV showing that a slight touch from o.g. expert Hooiveld may have been crucial.
With his opposite number dancing around his technical area for most of the game, Mauricio Pochettino’s response was very measured, with Ward-Prowse and Puncheon coming off the bench.
It wasn’t the sort of move to cause panic amongst the Mackems, but it was crucial in an equaliser that was more than deserved: Lambert fed Ward-Prowse for a cross that Puncheon met with a header that was brilliantly saved by Mignolet, only for Punch to fire in the rebound from an almost sitting position.
That left Saints with just over 10 minutes to secure safety, barring a record-breaking last day catastrophe, and they managed it with ease. With one point fewer and a less healthy goal difference, Sunderland aren’t quite as well placed, but still odds on to survive at the expense of Wigan – a pity because it’s such a long journey to a place that is often cold, wet and windy, even in May.
LSSC Man of the Match: Luke Shaw. Only four nominations (Shaw, Clyne, Schneiderlin and Davis), with Shaw a clear winner. Understandably for a 17 year old, his defensive game is still raw, but this was a match where defending was needed – my vote went elsewhere, but as ever, the majority wins.