London Saints

West Ham Away Lost 3 – 0

Relative to some recent performances, Saints benefitted from a new manager bounce when beating a side two divisions lower in the Cup, but Mark Hughes’ first League game in charge, at West Ham, started badly, got worse and finally faded into oblivion. A line-up that omitted Romeu and included Gabbiadini and a risky return for Austin didn’t look good, and a strategy of a cagey beginning aimed at taking a volatile crowd out of the game, or indeed using their frustrations to our advantage, didn’t work. That was also the case in the catastrophic defeat at Newcastle, when the home side got into Southampton’s faces from the start and never looked back after an early goal. At the London Stadium, Saints at least held out for 6 minutes, but with a fair amount of fortune – but then Lemina was caught indecisive and in possession, and a swift break ended with Eduardo, a.k.a. Joäo Mário, slamming in a shot that McCarthy might have handled better. McCarthy wasn’t the only one to have an uncertain time at the back, and Stephens and Hoedt will surely have had their ears bent by the new coaches for their handling of Arnautović, who could easily have ended up with more than the two goals that sealed the match before the half time whistle. His first can be traced to a mistake by Højbjerg but could Stephens have got nearer to the Austrian and prevent a header that was saved by McCarthy only for the rebound to be tapped home? The second was a devastating far post volley from a fine cross by Masuaku, but this time couldn’t Hoedt have been closer? Certainly not a goal had Lemina not lost possession again at the other end! Time for a half time change, Long replacing the hapless Gabbiadini, but there could have been three – more if the rules allowed it. Long hardly ever scores, but at least his running gives some impression that the opposition goal might just be under threat; nevertheless, the stats show zero shots on target, and even the SFC web site highlights package deemed just two blocked efforts from Austin worthy of inclusion. Both were in the second half, where there were some signs of improvement, but even so it was the Hammers who came closest with a volley from Cresswell clipping the bar.

LSSC Man of the Match: Shane Long, 45 minutes of effort being worth more than 90 minutes wasted pitch time by some of his mates.

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