Brighton & Hove Albion Away Won 0 – 1
There was speculation that Lemina could return to the squad at Brighton but he was nowhere to be seen, and nor was Vestergaard – injured apparently. The Dane’s absence persuaded Ralph to start with an orthodox back four and for the first half at least the extra defender would have been unnecessary as both sides gave every indication that they would rather play on the break – but it was the visitors who took advantage by having the lion’s share of the ball. This was a match for the committed rather than lovers of The Beautiful Game, but Southampton struggle to create chances when they are dominating possession and the atmosphere remained tense, but maybe quietly confident, at the break. Then Saints scored early in the second half, with Redmond earning credit for a good assist that allowed Højbjerg to poke the ball past Ryan from a narrow angle. Albion soon introduced playmaker March while the response was first to bring on Gallagher, who struggles at this level, for Ings, who may not be match fit, and then Stephens for Armstrong as we returned to five at the back. Whether those changes are responsible is unclear, but we had to endure an uncomfortable last half hour as Brighton at last began to threaten. Knockaert is their usual go-to guy for long shots and sure enough he sent an effort whistling past the post, and then full back Montoya went even closer, rattling the same upright with a cross shot, but at the end of the day the home side failed to stretch Gunn; in fact the ‘keeper’s worst moment was his own doing after he came a long way out for a cross but failed to gather. At the other end, only once did a second goal look likely but Redmond stumbled at the vital moment and the nail biting continued. To be fair to Ralph, he can justify his tinkering by pointing to the scoreboard and saying “look, I brought you three points, didn’t I?” And that was all we ever wanted from this game, wasn’t it?
LSSC Man of the Match: Jan Bednarek. The consensus was that it had to be a centre back and Jan slightly outplayed Yoshie.