London Saints

Fulham Home Won 2 – 0

Ralph denied that the home game with Fulham was of ‘must win’ proportions,’ which is good PR because failure to win a ‘must winner’ indicates a hopeless situation. As it was, a Saints victory showed that it was at best a ‘must not lose’ game for Claudio Ranieri who duly departed these shores again. Given the importance of the night for both sides, there wasn’t a lot of urgency on show but Southampton took the lead before too much anxiety found its way from the stands onto the pitch: after Rico elected to punch clear at a corner, Romeu shot through, and probably via, a crowd of players for what will still be credited as his first goal of the season. Experience, recent and as far back as you can remember, has taught us that one is rarely enough, even though we had both Bertrand and Yoshida back to shore up an error prone defence, so a second goal before the break was nice. It came when another restored player, Austin, combined with Redmond for a shot by the latter – Rico saved but Ward-Prowse was in first to convert the loose ball. With Mitrović in their line-up, Fulham couldn’t be discounted, although a statistic showing just four second half touches by the opposition in the Saints penalty area is maybe why the game neatly bookended Ranieri’s latest period in English football: it was his last in charge, the first having been in the corresponding fixture at Craven Cottage. It might have been different had Babel’s deflected shot against the bar been a few inches lower, but a clean sheet against a team recording 59% posession (and, somehow, four shots on target) has to be good for everybody’s confidence… Yoshie must have thought he was back playing for Japan.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse. Obviously he’s had better games, but the main thing on the night was that no-one made the sort of mistake that has been so fatal of late.

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