Crystal Palace Away
Missing from the trip to Crystal Palace were Pellè (half injured, so on the bench) and Stekelenburg (fully injured, so nowhere to be seen). That meant a return, not for Kelvin Davis but Gazzaniga, and he was soon in action, having to deal with a wayward cross that an awkward wind was taking towards the top corner. Gazza then had to be alert from the resulting corner to push away a powerful narrow angle shot by Cabaye, and again to make a goal-line save from the second corner. To my mind, that’s three more memorable saves than the regular number one has made in the season so far, but there was always a worry that Ronnie was pushing his luck by naming a defence that included Yoshida as well as the new keeper. Yoshie got the call because Saints again tried their back three tactic, probably in an attempt to nullify the threat from Palace’s wide men by having Soares and Bertrand as wing backs, although Bertrand in particular doesn’t look comfortable there. Generally, the further away Soares is from defensive action, the better, and a cross from him looked to have given Saints the lead when Steven Davis got in a glancing header, but Hennessey pulled off a remarkable save. It looked like being a crucial point in the game from the moment Palace struck, in the 39th minute – Fonte was ill-equipped to stop Bolasie from the left back position, and despite Saints having plenty of players in the vicinity, the forward’s cross found an unmarked Cabaye for what proved to be the only goal. The wind tended to favour the side attacking the Norwood Junction end (don’t suppose they really call it that), so Saints had more possession after the break and introduced Pellè and Tadić to try to regain parity. They still had to rely on Gazzaniga as their saviour at the other end before another critical moment involving Hennessey – this came in added time when Long broke clear only to see his shot beaten away by the keeper’s legs. Another unhappy afternoon for Saints, but thanks go from the LSSC contingent to Gill for providing some splendid fare at our pre-game social!
LSSC Man of the Match: Paulo Gazzaniga, who made the most of his opportunity.