Everton Home Won 4 – 1
With Romeu suspended and Lemina only fit enough to make the bench, Højbjerg was included in the starting XI to face Everton, with Austin receiving a similar promotion to lead the attack. Whether tactical tweaks or the ineptitude of our rudderless visitors turned goal-shy Saints into free scoring winners isn’t entirely clear, but Austin managed a shot against the post following good work by Soares before a through ball from Bertrand gave Tadić the chance to break the team’s duck in November – and for once fortune favoured our attackers as the Serb’s moderate first touch gave him the chance to slip the ball past Pickford. First half time was running out when Everton managed their first attempt at goal, but they certainly made Saints pay for allowing Sigurdsson of all people just enough space to get in a decisive shot that was so well placed that it went in off both bar and post. The scoreline was now making a mockery of Southampton’s dominant possession (it ended as 67%), but that’s not unusual; happily parity lasted only seven minutes into the second period as Austin headed his side back in front from Bertrand’s cross. Not too long later, Austin repeated the dose, this time from a left wing cross by Tadić after a lucky deflection sent him clear. I’m not sure why modern coaches insist on making their full quota of substitutions but they do, and that’s why Austin didn’t get a complete chance to record a hat trick as Long almost made the most of his ten minutes pitch time, forcing a save from Pickford. Breaking a personal goal drought would have been good for Long, but the team did go on to score a fourth, curled in by Davis, to complete their highest scoring home performance since Ronald Koeman was in charge at St. Mary’s.
LSSC Man of the Match: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, acclaimed as such by three distinct sets of supporters: at the ground, in the pub and on the train home. This was despite Austin’s two goals and Bertrand’s two assists, but how will he get a game when Romeu and Lemina are available again? Well, all he can do is play as well as this.
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