Manchester City Away Lost 6 – 1
Alex McCarthy was an early nomination for our prestigious man of the match award at Manchester City – actually over 24 hours early on account of an overnight stay to take advantage of Manchester’s famous nightlife (for most of us actually a backstreet boozer in Stockport, followed by the local curry house). However McCarthy didn’t have his best game, and could have done better with three goals – but even then he was not to blame for a defeat sealed by two strikes in the first twelve minutes that had left him stranded. Without playmaker De Bruyne, City’s tactics were to run at entrenched defenders and Sané and Sterling did the early damage – Hoedt pressured into an own goal from an impossible position and Agűero finishing more deliberately but from equally close range. Number three came on 17 minutes, McCarthy’s ineffectual flap failing to deal with a high shot by David Silva. Then came a statistical miracle: the Blues’ defence unbreached in domestic matches since 1st September was finally undone by goalkeeper Ederson, referee Mason and Ings who stroked in the penalty after he himself had been fouled – our own first league goal since mid September. There was half an opportunity to pull the score back to 2-3, and that certainly would have changed the mood in the stadium, but instead in added time Soares made a hash of shepherding the ball out of play and was robbed by Agűero, the game’s outstanding player, before Sterling caused us to turn round three adrift. The half time talk would have been short and sharp… well certainly short as Saints were sent out early to enjoy what was left of the half time entertainment. A better performance saw Ings only denied by a remarkable save by Ederson, but Agűero was still in action at the other end and set up Sterling again for a narrow angle shot that went through McCarthy for goal number five. Long had two contrasting opportunities, but he mishit a shot from fully forty yards that allowed out-of-position Ederson time to get back and save comfortably and then found the side netting when well placed after good work by surprise substitute Michael Obafemi. That was before Saints conceded again in added time – Sané, who had earlier hit the post, beating McCarthy on his near side when City broke against an unpopulated right flank defence.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mario Lemina, a key but inconsistent midfielder. Actually Saints had a few players who may have felt they were better than the scoreline suggests, but several were well off their game, and our opponents were quite good.