West Brom Away Won 2 – 3
The team sent out to face West Brom was much more like the one that should have faced Brighton, with Lemina, Boufal and Carrillo all starting: maybe Højbjerg could reasonably feel hard done by to have lost his place, but they can’t all play. This was designated Cyrille Regis Day at The Hawthorns to celebrate the life of their recently deceased player, but it had been Groundhog Day in North America the day before and it felt like the Groundhog Day movie in the visitors’ section when Hegazi headed the home side into an early lead from a corner, the manner of the goal causing particular concern – only TV revealed how Stephens may have had good cause in his complaints about foul play. The mood at the Smethwick End was not a good one and both coach and decision makers would have heard demands for a morning sacking, despite Sr. Pellegrino’s new acquisiton, Carrillo, only being denied an equaliser by a good save. However, a morale boosting leveller did come on 40 minutes when Lemina walloped in a shot for the sort of memorable goal Saints seem to concede themselves quite readily but very rarely deliver. You’d still have got good odds against a complaint-free concourse at the break, but it came thanks to a go-ahead goal headed in by Stephens, his third in successive games. If Lemina’s strike was a surprise, so was Southampton going further ahead from a direct free kick, Ward-Prowse swerving one past an ill-placed wall, and after a rather comical spat with Boufal over who should have had responsibility… and after WBA had failed to do any more than draw a save from McCarthy from several similar opportunities. At this stage Saints looked home and hosed, and would have been had McCauley not knocked the ball away from Carrillo as he prepared to break his English duck; things are never that simple for us, though, and a header from Rondón with 18 minutes left on the clock threatened to blow a two goal lead as at Watford – Groundhog Day again. As it was, Saints managed their bench well and might have scored a fourth had Long done better with a header or had better support from the referee with a penalty appeal.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mario Lemina, for a much greater contribution than just his goal.