Leicester Away Won 1 – 2
Plenty of pre-match press attention for the return game with Leicester, for reasons above and beyond a clash between the league’s second placed team and the one second in the current form standings – they were positive examinations of Southampton’s resurgence since shipping nine against the same opponents, based around an under-pressure boss finally settling on a formation that suits his charges, and the players responding accordingly. No selection surprises then, with Long and Armstrong getting a start and contributing to a bright opening where Ings missed out due to a pair of blocked saves by Schmeichel. I expected us to defend deep against a side noted for their counter attacking pace but that wasn’t Ralph’s way and the inevitable did happen when Pérez took a quick free and found Vardy who raced forward to cross low for Praet to score. The lead lasted just five minutes, though, with Armstrong, who had an influential game, netting his first of the season via a considerable deflection off Maddison. Vardy next had the ball in the net only to be denied by an offside flag confirmed by VAR – not the first and certainly not the last time technology had to be referred to. If anyone were to turn around in front, though, it would have been Saints with Ings bouncing an Armstrong cross against the bar and then rapping the same woodwork with more force with a snap shot from broken play. Soon after the restart an error by Schmeichel caught Stephens by surprise allowing his scuffed effort to be cleared off the line. VAR (and, to be fair, a flag) was back to rule out Iheanacho’s bundled ‘goal,’ then a link up between Armstrong and Long was the next talking point in an eventful game when Long was bundled over by Söyűncű for a clear penalty award, only for VAR to have found the striker offside. Ralph introduced the fresh legs of Adams and Djenepo for Long and (surprisingly) Armstrong and this paid dividends when Adams assisted Ings to his almost inevitable goal, poking the ball through Schmeichel’s legs with enough pace to take it bobbling into the net. VAR had to have a look of course, and the technology was soon in action again, this time to save Saints after Adams conceded an unnecessary free kick and Evans, unflagged, headed home in the 90th minute. It should have been academic anyway but Redmond and Ings had failed to convert a 2 v. 1 situation just after the Ings goal, this time Danny foiled by a blinding save. Despite all the reviewing and a full set of substitutions, added time was not excessive and the final whistle was the cue for celebrations all round, although the trademark Hasenhűttl wave was strangely muted – one suspects there was a great inner pride at this particular result, though.
LSSC Man of the Match: Danny Ings, as voted by travellers on the 18:39 back to London. A goal and two strikes of the woodwork edged his personal battle with Schmeichel, while elsewhere on our team there were notable contributions from McCarthy and Stephens.
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