West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Saints
Saints lined up at West Brom with Clyne, Bertrand, Yoshida, Fonte and Gardos all present, as well as both Schneiderlin and Wanyama in midfield, although Davis was omitted. What resulted is often described as a 3-5-2 formation, but I suspect it’s more subtle than that – anyway, you had to be alert to work it out because it was changed to a more orthodox four at the back approach after just 20 minutes.
By then we were a goal down, and used to it, after Berahino had put the Baggies ahead on what’s been timed as 71 seconds: Yoshida could only head a free kick back into the danger area where there was a lack of midfield cover, and the talented striker lashed the ball past Forster. The manager seemed to have told his press conference that he thought the early goal changed the game, although what there had been to change from in the first 70 seconds is difficult to fathom.
Introducing Elia had little effect and the home side came the closer to altering the scoreline in the opening half, but Gardner failed to make the most of his opportunity in front of goal. Referee Dowd made way for the fourth official at the break, but more significant was the replacement of Wanyama, who I thought was the game’s outstanding player to that point – perhaps a 25th minute caution was the reason.
A final move off the bench saw Long come on for the disappointing Tadić, but the early tactical switch would have limited the manager’s options. He may have been tempted to call time on Pellè, especially as the out of form striker failed to convert a chance that was really set up on a plate for him by Bertrand. On the train home, fans from Leyton Orient didn’t seem too impressed by our post match moans (“you’re in the top six of the Premier League!”) but the lack of goals to cheer is frustrating, especially against the sort of team we ought to beat. There’s also a nasty side to WBA these days as well, with time wasting tactics from the second minute onwards probably designed to frustrate as much as manage the clock.
LSSC Man of the Match: Ryan Bertrand, who may well have been our best attacking hope.