Watford Away Drew 1 – 1
Still no Vestergaard in the team at Watford where Saints nevertheless started with a back five, and with Long preferred to Ings up front. Within eight seconds, that decision proved to be correct, with Watford kicking off for a second time with only three players having touched the ball, the key ones being Cathcart, whose clearance had been charged down, and Long, doing the charging and then finishing with uncharacteristic ease. The great start needed to be consolidated, but that was not proving easy and the home side could have been level with just three minutes played, but for Gray missing two opportunities, the first saved and the rebound sent over the bar. Despite a spirited response to Long’s goal, Southampton began to establish some control over the game, looking particularly dangerous down the right, and both Redmond and Bertrand struck the post when trying to convert crosses at the far post – the latter actually foiled by a desperate save by Foster. Manager Gracia replaced Cathcart at the break to give his side more mobility going forward, but for much of the second half Saints still looked the more likely to score, and Long drew a foul (and a caution for Kabasele) on the very edge of the box. A resulting injury caused the Irishman to be replaced, with defensive substitute Valery seeming to be a sound replacement in the circumstances of the game. In fact it wasn’t until the very closing stages that the Hornets began to mount any concerted pressure, but without Long to enable an ‘out’ ball, our defence was never able to clear properly and with what must have been the very last kick of the first ninety minutes, they eventually succumbed – Gray was the scorer, rattling a shot from close range in off the bar… but Gunn should surely have done better with it? Five minutes of added time still had to be negotiated but Saints probably felt that the luxury of a six point gap to 18th place was not to be risked and seemed to settle for the draw, as did Watford who would have felt as though they’d just got out of gaol.
LSSC Man of the Match: Shane Long. A Premier League record breaking first goal is what he’ll remember, but his running proved a constant threat and he was finally missed at the end.
There was even more good news for Shane Long this week as he was handed his Premier League award for having reached 50 goals in the top flight, the goal coming earlier this month prior to his record-breaking strike against the Hornets.