Crystal Palace Away Won 0 – 2
Bednarek picked up an injury against Wolves so Vestergaard was chosen to face Crystal Palace in the first defensive change to the Premier League team for some time, while Ralph’s rotation ‘threat’ meant that Ings sat out most of the game on the bench. Soares went down under a heavy challenge and although he made it back on the pitch to see a Vestergaard mistake setting up Tosun to miss what was to be Palace’s easiest chance of the night, he was soon forced off, leaving Ward-Prowse to renew his battles with Zaha as full back v. winger. On 22 minutes things took a serious turn for the better at the other end when Redmond created a bit of space for himself and then fired a fine shot past Guaita. Going in front means one eye on the clock for the rest of the game, but Saints were now playing so well that the half time whistle was not a welcome distraction, especially as Roy Hodgson has been known to make vital tactical changes to turn around games against us. Whatever plan B Roy had up his sleeve soon had to be replaced by plan C as Armstrong‘s shot from outside the box three minutes into the second period put Saints further ahead. This time there was never any doubt about the team holding on to a 2-0 advantage, and in fact Long should have sewn things up completely when freed by Obafemi but he fired tamely and straight at Guaita. Back up the other end of the pitch, McCarthy was having a much easier time against his old club, and it was no surprise to find the match stats recording zero shots on target for him to deal with. The star of the visiting defence that also prevented any opposition corners was Ward-Prowse who made a fine last ditch tackle as well as denying Zaha any opportunities at all. I don’t suppose Ward-Prowse is entirely innocent in whatever has caused the bad blood between him and Zaha, but there’s only been one winner. TV cameras spotted another incident as the players left the pitch at the break, with arguably a wilder swing of the handbag in the direction of JW-P’s face by Zaha than in his sending off at St. Mary’s last season, and the winger appeared to be further unsettled by taunts of ‘gonna cry in a minute’ from the visiting support: with their star player having his head in another place and Milivojević, their most influential (i.e. skilful, dirty bastard) one, suspended, Palace were woeful and Saints rampant.
LSSC Man of the Match:James Ward-Prowse. I was lazy nominating the reliable go-to guy against Wolves, but his out of position performance was the stand-out one tonight.