London Saints

Sunderland Away won 4 – 0

The very first minute of the game at Sunderland looked to have encompassed Southampton’s attitude this season: they moved the ball purposely to the edge of the penalty area but failed to get in a shot (not even a cross) before retreating back downfield, ending with a hack away by Forster and both possession and impetus lost. As a result the home team were on top for the first 15 minutes, but eventually Saints gave an indication that they might have some tactical understanding as they actually started passing the ball forwards. This seemed to occur when Gabbiadini was involved in a build up: on 28 minutes he beat the offside trap and lured Mannone out of his goal before pulling the ball back – no-one was too surprised when he was let down by Soares’ finish; on 30 minutes he got on the end of Bertrand’s whipped cross and seemed to head Saints ahead – the forensic eye of multiple TV cameras suggest the final touch was more Sunderland head followed by accidental Gabbiadini hand, but what the heck, it went in. Saints have developed a bad recent habit of conceding soon after scoring, but by now they were winning most of the key battles, and seemed to be preserving that single goal lead until the interval with ease; happily Gabbiadini had better plans, with a brilliant 45th minute turn that Kone neither expected nor was capable of dealing with, and all of a sudden it was 0-2. A half time Sunderland substitution, no doubt preceded by the application of the hairdryer, failed to wrest the initiative from a dominant Southampton and it was a rare event for the home side to come up field, let alone threaten Forster’s goal. Although they usually concentrate more on passing the ball about amongst themselves rather than worrying about scoring, Saints ended up with a highly creditable 15 shots at goal, and the 70th minute substitution of Gabbiadini seemed to be designed to save the Black Cats from further embarrassment. In fact there were to be more goals late on, the first coming after 89 minutes when sub Long failed to connect with Bertrand’s cross, but home defender Denayer behind him obligingly did. Most of a select, and it has to be said, quite senior LSSC contingent spent the second half sat (not stood, thank you very much) in a quiet corner of the visitors’ end, but this goal was greeted over-exuberantly by one of the younger seniors, knocking over one of our most senior, to the concern of some stewards – the sad truth is we’re really too old to be allowed to go to football on our own any more… but at least we were there! Sunderland were now reduced to playing out time, and they failed to do even this very well, allowing Long to exchange passes with Ward-Prowse before scoring the fourth with ease. There was still time for the ball to get past Forster, but it had been punched in by Khazri so not only an emphatic pre Cup Final win, but a clean sheet too.

LSSC Man of the Match: Manolo Gabbiadini, although Ward-Prowse was the star of a midfield who collectively made this a very easy game for both forwards and defenders.

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