Newcastle Home Lost 0 – 1
Southampton began brightly against Newcastle, being all over their opponents like a rash (or is that a virus?) in the first couple of minutes, but thereafter they never really recovered from a ninth minute scare when they had to be rescued by an amazing triple save from McCarthy to keep out Gayle and Almirón (twice). Saints had already begun to wilt by the time of the game’s defining moment on 28 minutes when Djenepo launched into an ill-advised lunge at Hayden that brought a yellow card from referee Scott that he changed to red after VAR advised him consult a TV monitor that seemed to spring up out of nowhere in front of the Itchen Stand. By that point we had already registered at least one of our total of three shots at goal and the already overworked McCarthy was to be by far the busier keeper – it was odd, though, to find a home team resorting readily to a defensive attitude despite their numerical disadvantage, but it usually suits the way our team is set up. In fact the remaining time before the break was the most awkward for us to negotiate with Lascelles finding the net only to be flagged offside and Gayle wasting more opportunities before Boufal caused VAR to be invoked for the second time to spot a definite handball in his attempt to clear: McCarthy again to the rescue, and to deny Ritchie the Skate from the spot. Newcastle’s efforts to turn all their possession into a goal were becoming increasingly predictable as the second half moved on and their substitutions seemed designed more towards keeping it 10 v. 11 as all their cautioned players were withdrawn: when Lascelles shot well over from way out, a hard fought draw was looking likely. Then an aimless high ball forward proved awkward for Valery on his return to first team action and Saint-Maximin reacted positively to gain possession and guide a shot just wide of McCarthy and just inside the post. The risk of playing Valery ahead of Walker-Peters and with Ward-Prowse moving forward to midfield cost us a point and gained two for the visitors but he had a solid enough game otherwise and needs to get over this setback. Djenepo will now have a few weeks to recover from his error and, more importantly really, his mother’s recent death, but Boufal’s mistake is harder to forgive, even if McCarthy spared him the blame for this latest of many home defeats.
LSSC Man of the Match: Alex McCarthy. An easy one this week, marking a return to form for a player who has been widely criticised of late. A shame we had nothing to show for his efforts.