EFL Cup 4th Round Manchester City Away Lost 3 – 1
Champagne moment of the Leicester debacle was the few fans left at the Northam End singing out a warning that “Manchester City, we’re coming for you.” Funny at the time (despite the scoreline), but everyone knew the Eastlands double header would become reality soon enough. Not surprisingly McCarthy lined up against the Carabao Cup holders behind a back five, but this time there was no element of the wide players doubling up as wing backs; instead there they all were lined up across the pitch in front of us: Valery, Danso, Bednarek, Stephens and Højbjerg. Yes, Højbjerg, although it wasn’t an entirely new role as he’d played as left wing back in a previous round at Fulham, while Long was included up front for nuisance value as much as an expectation of a goal and Boufal drew a desperately short straw as a creative player with precious little to work with. Sitting back in numbers ought to make things difficult for anyone, but even City’s domestic cup XI possess so many options that shell-shocked Saints were never in with a realistic chance – certainly not after a short corner routine gave a change of angle for Bernardo Silva’s cross and Otamendi headed what looked a very simple goal. The home team turned round two ahead and pretty well sure of a place in the next round when pace-shy Højbjerg found himself up against an overlapping Walker and Agūero scored from within the six yard box. A much improved second half performance from our lads was heartening, but realistically one knew that City had taken their foot off the gas. They still scored next though, thanks to Agūero reacting swiftly when Mahrez’s shot took a big deflection and had they made it four, who knows where we may have ended up? Instead, Boufal went oh so close at the other end when his shot was touched just past the post by Bravo, at which point Ralph promptly took him and Long off to introduce Redmond and Adams. Stephens was next to be denied by Bravo, from a corner, but in the 76th minute he headed home – which by my way of counting gave us three shots on target, despite what the match stats say. Bring City on again on Saturday and we’ll see if we can manage a fourth.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jack Stephens. The goal helped, and as we don’t score many, that was enough for the select bunch enjoying the music as well as the beer back at our favourite match-day venue, The Jolly Angler.