Davis was unavailable for the home game with Newcastle and with no obvious like-for-like replacement beyond Tadić, who was likely to play anyway, that meant a choice between a more attacking or more defensive midfield: manager Koeman chose the former with Long playing in front of a back four. It soon proved to be an inspired move as Long was allowed to run through a paper thin defence before sliding the ball past Darlow for a third minute lead. Newcastle’s overall contribution in the first half matched that early defending but the security of a second goal was eluding Saints until they struck again shortly before the interval. It came after Tadić had picked out Long with his cross, and a poor first touch actually paid dividends for Saints as the ball fell nicely for Pellè to strike it home. The chances of the woeful Mags pulling back a two goal deficit were remote, but a team so desperate for points might only need a single goal to encourage them into a better effort. A third goal was wanted by the greedy to ease all nerves and it soon came, with Mané reaching the by-line after a short corner and pulling the ball back for Fonte; although Darlow kicked away the shot, Wanyama was on hand to fire home his first goal of the season. Long may not be fully fit, and he was soon withdrawn, just before Newcastle had their first shot at goal, comfortably saved by Forster. Their second, from Townsend, forced the keeper into more meaningful action and then the same player unleashed an unsaveable effort that made us grateful for Wanyama’s goal. Rodriguez came on for the last few minutes as the game came to a peaceful end, with Saints now on fifty points and Newcastle in deep trouble.
LSSC Man of the Match: Shane Long. His sixty minutes on the pitch were Saints’ best.
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