Watford Away Won 4 – 3
Southampton were unchanged between Wembley and Watford which suggests that the manager’s rotation policy was just his way of coping with two games a week rather than anything dogmatic. The game at Vicarage Road didn’t start very well, though, with the defence finding it difficult to deal with successive long throws by Niang before Deeney scored rather cleverly as the ball went loose. Watford’s high and direct approach came as a bit of a surprise to me as I don’t recall any adverse criticism of this limited ploy. Saints offer something completely different; an equaliser via their passing game was not exactly threatening at this point, but at least they had possession in good areas, and Tadić made the most of another loose ball to fire in from the edge of the box. The opening half had moved into added time when Saints turned the game around with a very good goal both in the making and taking, Redmond gaining the scorer’s credit with a shot from the right in off the left hand post. Watford didn’t show much in response after the break and the cushion of a two goal lead looked more likely than an equaliser, and it might have been provided by Yoshida but for a reaction save by Gomes. Nevertheless, equaliser was the next score, with Okaka providing a powerful finish in the 80th minute from a cross by optimistically named substitute Isaac Success. Possibly Stephens might have done better with this situation, but he coped like a veteran with the Hornets’ next attack, snuffing out Okaka’s threat when the forward ought to have scored. It was a turning point as Gomes let his mates down at the other end by fumbling Boufal’s shot, and Gabbiadini was more alert than anyone else to reach the rebound first. The Italian hadn’t played for so long in a single English match before, and he was promptly substituted, but the game’s outstanding player was Redmond and he remained on the pitch to score from the left wing with what turned out to be eight minutes playing time remaining. Good job Saints did net four in successive away league games because they couldn’t hold Watford to two when Doucouré knocked home a free kick from a suspiciously offside position with around 90 seconds left – not enough for Saints to throw away a win that they thoroughly deserved.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond, revelling in what seems to be a ‘roam where you like’ role.
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