Wayford Home Drew 1 – 1
Changes on and off the pitch for Southampton as they prepared to face Watford. With Les Reed contemplating enforced retirement, Mark Hughes gave a first League start of the season to Yoshida while there were recalls for Armstrong and Gabbiadini: all players capable of mistakes, and especially in a first half mostly played in torrential rain, there were plenty of those amongst both sets of players. It would be very wrong to claim that there was a lot of quality football on offer, but the desperate will for maximum points made the encounter engrossing for home fans at least, and things began to look positive when some hesitant defending from a corner allowed Ings to set up Gabbiadini for a 20th minute opener. Watford required goalkeeper Forster to kick off his line to prevent Armstrong adding to the lead, but I suspect most Saints were content enough at half time. The second period continued its error-strewn way, and crucially for both sides, those mistakes now extended to the officials. On 57 minutes, Chalobah broke into the Saints penalty area and was halted by a desperate challenge by Bertrand: it looked a foul at the time and looks even more so on replays, but the Saints skipper, who had already been booked, not only stayed on the pitch but got away with merely a corner. Maybe it would be Southampton’s day at home, at last? And maybe it would have been had they gone two up, as they seemed to do when Redmond burst forward and fed Austin whose shot found the corner thanks to a deflection. At first the ‘goal’ was allowed, but then electronic communications between referee Hooper and his assistant led to them concluding that the obvious deflection off Femenía’s foot from point blank range was off Yoshida’s chest from 10 yards away – and Yoshie was in an offside position. Astonishing! Saints, though, were still ahead and only had to see out the game. When the clock ticked past 80 minutes, it seemed as though they would, but fate lent a hand again, with Ward-Prowse’s attempted clearance blocked straight into the path of Holebas whose follow-up beat McCarthy thanks to hitting Soares’ back on its way in. To be honest, Watford were the only likely winners in the remaining time and Yoshida’s day was almost complete when McCarthy inelegantly and ineffectively flapped a cross onto the back of the defender’s head and watched in near-horror as the rebound bounced onto the bar – two points dropped was nearly three.
LSSC Man of the Match:Manolo Gabbiadini, selected by those at the London Saints anniversary match-day hospitality. Among the front runners, 7 votes for Gabbiadini, 6 for Lemina, 4 for Redmond.