Crystal Palace Home Drew 1 – 1
After two excellent and timely wins on the road, Saints were faced with, for them, a nightmare run of fixtures: three games at St. Mary’s in a week. Despite the team’s poor home form, spirits were high as we took on Crystal Palace following the win at Chelsea and Ralph turned out a positive looking side with Boufal back, but Obefemi’s reward for his fine goal at Stamford Bridge was to sit on the bench and watch Adams partner the recalled Ings. Going back to home turf also meant a return to the graveyard slot on Match of the Day but that was unfortunate as this was an entertaining game with Southampton displaying an energy often missing in their familiar surroundings. They seemed to come on stronger after apparently falling behind on 15 minutes when Zaha turned Soares inside out and pulled the ball back for Meyer to convert. Not for the first time (in fact for the umpteenth) Saints were rescued by VAR and not for the first time it was one of those controversial marginal offside calls that went in their favour. So, goal-less at half time, but there were worries when the visitors won a free kick in dangerous territory and Milivojević stepped up to take it. Those worries were of the Sod’s Law variety as the Palace skipper had been pushing hard for a second yellow card with several heavy challenges and for sharing in his team’s keenness to dish out refereeing advice at every opportunity – and he was celebrating a goal with a well flighted delivery that Tomkins headed home amid a suspicion that Saints were concentrating more on a direct shot. I think it was a correct move to play Boufal but he wasn’t getting the run of the ball, and introducing Djenepo as an impact sub has worked well for us, so off went Adams and Boufal as Saints made two changes shortly after the hour on came Djenepo and Armstrong. Still, though, it was a struggle to find the telling pass to create a scoring opportunity – that is until Palace defender Kelly showed how it should be done when he set up Ings and Danny is in such form that he wasn’t going to wonder where the ball had come from before knocking it into the net. Cue a big finish from a rejuvenated team and Guaita just about preserved his side’s point by saving brilliantly from Djenepo, Ings and Ward-Prowse, whilst there was an ever present threat from Zaha at the other end. A game it would have been nice to have won, but a defeat would have felt like going back to square one, and we don’t want that.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse. Are there still people out there criticising him?