Newcastle Away Lost 2 – 1
Finding themselves back in the bottom three nearly 24 hours before kick off, Saints turned out at Newcastle in their fourth different kit of the season and with their red shirts highlighting a bright opening. Getting the ball in the net when on top is a recurring problem, although one probably widely experienced amongst clubs lacking a stellar budget. Redmond was the man who had the best first half chance, capitalising on some poor home defending to create a run on goal – his early shot looked the best option, but Dúbravka’s foot sent the ball looping over the bar. The resulting corner also fell to Redmond and again Dúbravka saved well to leave the visitors happy enough with their first half performance but without a lead to show for it. Newcastle seemed to be reacting to what in technical terms is known as a half time bollocking as play got underway again, but it was Southampton who broke the deadlock, and of course it was in-form Danny Ings behind it, making the most of an opportunity similar to that falling to Redmond before the break. Finding themselves a goal down and outplayed for the first hour, it was no surprise that Newcastle should introduce Andy Carroll off the bench but I’m not entirely convinced this was the critical factor in their turning the game around in the last third, more that Saints retreated into goal-preserving mode. It is true, though, that Carroll provided the cross for Shelvey’s 69th minute headed equaliser, an unfortunate affair as Shelvey had taken the free kick that led to the play and so arrived unchallenged in the penalty box, while McCarthy remained rooted to the spot, possibly believing that the ball was going wide. Ward-Prowse’s deliveries from set pieces have been profitable of late, but this time his luck was out with close calls from both corners and free kicks, especially a corner routine involving Long and Bertrand that failed to provide the success we enjoyed against Norwich as the defender couldn’t react quickly enough at the far post. Saints seem to have more goalkeeping coaches than decent goalkeepers and you’d have thought than one of them could have addressed McCarthy’s habit of spilling long range shots back into danger, but with time running out he did just that from Longstaff’s effort and Fernandez was on hand to net the loose ball; it was a situation that often ends up offside but those with Saints’ interests at heart looked to first the assistant’s flag and then the VAR screen with no response from either. Always disappointing not to convert a winning position into three points, especially so not to take home anything, and even more so having travelled so far.
LSSC Man of the Match: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, despite a caution. It would be nice to sort out a new contract for him.