West Ham Home Lost 0 – 1
Saints were unchanged against West Ham and were hoping that a sudden upturn in home fortunes would continue unchanged as well. Some hope! Before Southampton had seriously ventured over the halfway line, the ball was in the back of the net: a free kick headed home by Rice from an offside position, but with the home defence shown as powerless to prevent it. Really, though, the problem was at the other end and all the more disturbing as lessons from the Watford game had not been learned. Against the Hornets Ralph had tried Djenepo, Obafemi, Ings and Redmond but found that left too little space for Djenepo to work in. Despite the more experienced Long making more thoughtful runs than Obafemi, things were arguably worse with Long now occupying Redmond’s space and the two midfielders being over-run. The visitors took an overdue lead on 37 minutes from an Antonio cross and although there were plenty of defenders around, none got near Fornals’ head down for Haller‘s goal. Haller and his teammates were distraught that the Frenchman was denied a penalty for a push by Bertrand but VAR supported referee Atkinson’s play-on decision after several reviews. Ralph had to do something at half time and although replacing Redmond with Romeu raised a few eyebrows, it did improve things overall. Any action from our forwards would have been academic anyway after a difficult start to the second period for our centre backs as first Fornals had a shot well saved and then Antonio burst through and planted the ball in the net only for VAR to spot the handball that half the stadium (but not the referee’s half) had seen. Djenepo at least now had a bit of space and Ings crashed a shot against the underside of the bar, but it seemed impossible to force Martin into a save. Ings again hit the woodwork – an offside flag meant that it didn’t seem important at the time but VAR would probably have rescued Saints one more time had it gone to review. Then Ings finally put the ball in the net, and with some style too, but the effort was disallowed, probably for an earlier foul by Djenepo, then in an enlivened finish, Stephens miscued while Ward-Prowse couldn’t oblige with a free kick from his favourite position. All that makes it sounds though Southampton deserved something for a revival, but in truth it needed a McCarthy save from Haller and a bad miss by Yarmolenko to prevent a more realistic scoreline. Not a good evening for Ralph and his boys.
LSSC Man of the Match: Danny Ings, despite a rare failure to score. That he came so close with so little to work with wins him the award.
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