Bournemouth Home Won 2 – 1
Manager Hughes suggested that we might have to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ at Bournemouth, such was the desperate need for points. It wasn’t quite that, but by including Redmond, Tadić and Austin, and with Lemina given licence to get forward, he might just have come up with the ideal line-up for home games against this class of opponent. They still had to find a way of putting the ball in the net though, and (glory be!) we managed that with a quick breakaway goal – arguably the first since Mané left! It came from a Bournemouth corner and all of a sudden a fine touch by Redmond left us outnumbering retreating defenders and, despite the unfamiliarity of the situation, Lemina and Tadić played it to perfection, the latter slotting home with ease. Whether the ‘ideal line-up’ could be strengthened by an available Stephens is a matter for conjecture, but Hoedt is struggling for form, and a succession of minor errors gave the visitors an opportunity to get back in the game on the stroke of half time: a poorly flighted free kick followed by a poor throw in and then an unnecessary foul were not good ball management. Lemina seemed to have rescued the situation by conceding a corner but again the three centre backs were found wanting and King volleyed in an equaliser from close range. Saints didn’t have to wait too long to regain the lead, and again we had to thank Tadić for firing in something that looked suspiciously like a toe poke but was nevertheless well struck; under other management regimes he might have been encouraged to pass instead. Long soon replaced Redmond and a free running forward line were only denied by several blocks by Begović, some straightforward, others crucial. We all know how Saints look after a lead (badly!) and our visitors have the best record of rescuing points from losing positions: small wonder that the closing stages, plus five minutes added time, were desperate. Twice Begović made his way upfield for set pieces and twice McCarthy had to be at his best to prevent a heart breaking equaliser, but a first home league win since November was secured in this derby. Saints players collapsed like flies at the end, probably from mental fatigue as much as physical.
LSSC Man of the Match: Dušan Tadić, an all round good performance plus two goals to put him ahead of Lemina and McCarthy.