Manchester United Home Drew 1 – 1
Southampton were left licking their wounds after being hit by injuries in the midweek cup tie, but that could have been an advantage; opponents Manchester United would have had to rethink and guess at their defensive game plan, whereas at least Saints knew what they were about. Actually it was no surprise to see Ings and Adams up front, aided by Boufal, and they all contributed to a bright beginning, only to be brought down to earth in the 11th minute. This was due to a fine strike by James, the third such effort from the left that we’ve seen already in this fledgling season, and the second conceded in as many home matches, which may indicate a systemic weakness – even if the personnel on our right flank has changed, Valery no doubt still sore after that tackle at Brighton. Understandably, that forced the team onto the back foot, but they did show signs of recovery before the break, and soon after the turnaround, Boufal set up a great chance for Adams which the striker rather wasted, no doubt leading to the decision to replace him with Long. By then Saints were level, Ings going close with a header from a corner and before the ball was properly cleared, Danso lobbed it back in for Vestergaard to out jump Lindelöf easily and score with a close range header. The possibility of going on to complete a victory was certainly there, but then Danso, already on a booking, launched into a most ill-advised lunge on McTominay somewhere near the halfway line and all of a sudden Saints were up against it. The introduction of Matić for Mata gave United a huge physical as well as numerical advantage, at least until McTominay himself gave way; Saints had already, and surprisingly, replaced Boufal before Danso’s dismissal and now Ings had to be sacrificed leaving Long, who had started the week unsure of his place in the squad, now the last forward left standing. His role was simply to take pressure off a desperately hard working defence backed up by some good saves and sure handling by Gunn, and epitomised by Soares’ struggling on despite an added time injury sustained in his efforts to contain James, who gave him trouble throughout. United, though, were misfiring and deserved no more than the single point that they would be disappointed with, while this felt like a win for us – despite the team being literally on their knees at the final whistle.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu, ahead of Gunn and Bednarek. His cool header back to Gunn when under pressure will live in the memory, and he and Höjbjerg will have been left with sore throats after managing to join in the ongoing dialogue between referee Dean and the usual suspects amongst the visitors.