London Saints

Sunderland Home EFL Cup Won 1 – 0

Matches are coming along fast and furious now, and it will surely have crossed Monsieur Puel’s mind that the best result in the club’s opening EFL Cup game would have been a defeat. Crystal Palace’s selection policy made that result unlikely, but Claude, quite understandably really, made nine changes to his starting line up in order to face Sunderland. That meant well deserved rests for Romeu and Van Dijk, giving opportunities for Stephens (at full back) and Reed, while Boufal got a first start, accompanying Isgrove as attacking midfielder. The visitors struggled to get involved in the opening stages, but they were gradually working they way into the game when Rodriguez departed under his latest injury, and on came Olomola. This was a brave choice as Austin and Redmond were both available, and a possible outcome was a substitution of the substitute should things get desperate. Saints asserted themselves better in the second half with a more direct approach and were eventually rewarded with an individual goal that made an otherwise forgettable night: Boufal’s first touch to control Fonte’s high pass was impressive, his curling shot into the top corner sublime. The lead was immediately under threat as a corner was headed either onto the post or onto Reed covering on the line. Our usual nemesis, Defoe, came on as Sunderland fought back strongly but Young England player Whatmore caught the eye most. The talking point of those closing stages concerned a strong penalty appeal when Anichebe fell at Yoshida’s feet just inside the box, but Championship referee Kavanagh waved play on, much to Anichebe’s frustration and manager Moyes’ disgust, to the extent that he was asked to leave the technical area – and, fair play, he admitted that he deserved it. I’m not sure myself whether this was a penalty or not as we don’t know whether Anichebe went down after a trip or a push, but Mr. Moyes’ view that his team deserved more from the game is reasonable. They were beaten thanks to Boufal’s brilliance, but he again committed the sin of giving the ball away too cheaply and he might have done more to support the willing but ineffective Olomola – not a team man I fear 

LSSC Man of the Match: Maya Yoshida, assuming, of course, that the referee got his big penalty decision right.

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