Manchester City Home Won 1 – 0 Che of the mark with great goal
We had reason to be thankful that Stephens only received a one match ban for his recent sending off; Vestergaard handled the awkward but limited Deeney very well but his lack of mobility would have been exploited by Manchester City‘s eager forward line. Also back, as far as the subs anyway, was Djenepo, the elapsed time of his suspension eclipsing the nine weeks once handed out to the great Brian O’Neil; Southampton’s bench included people called Ferry and Jankewitz (no, me neither) while City had the likes of De Bruyne and Foden waiting. That shows the gulf between the squads but at any one time it could only be eleven v. eleven, and Ralph’s charges executed the game plan and kept to their shape so well that the coach only dared make one change until deep into added time. What we needed to complete the Hasenhűttl day was a goal fromAdams, back in the starting line up. Well done if you put money on his breaking his scoring duck in this game, but not even lucky punters would have predicted that it would be with SFC’s goal of the season – a 40 yard strike that sailed over the advanced Ederson de Moraes before bouncing on the goal line and up into the roof of the net (also earning Armstrong a goal assist simply for a tackle barely in our opponents’ half). That left half an hour just to get to the break unscathed and despite nobody making a serious mistake we had to rely on several instinctive saves by McCarthy to achieve it… when he was beaten by Fernandhino Roza, a trusty Chapel End post came to the rescue. Saints weren’t totally out of the first 45 minutes, but the game became increasingly difficult as time wore on. Usually someone makes a fatal error somewhere, especially at St. Mary’s, but the story of the first half continued, including contributions from the goalkeeper, and towards the end Armstrong came close to doubling the lead, denied only by Ederson’s outstretched leg. To be fair to Ralph’s predecessors, we have managed to make City suffer in several recent games, only to succumb late on, and so it seemed this time round when De Bruyne lined up for an edge-of-the-box free kick deep, deep into added time; I can’t have been the only one cheering the wall doing its job as if we’d scored a goal – wonder how the canned crowd atmosphere coped with that, but the BBC let us turn it off and I suspect few of us actually know. The players celebrated the win far more than their league position suggested they might, but just as Adams’ goal removed a monkey off his personal back, collectively they were delighted to beat someone at home who wasn’t Tottenham Hotspur or relegation fodder.
LSSC Man of the Match:Alex McCarthy, who owed us one, and probably two. The man on the telly gave it to Stephens, which is fair enough, and Walker-Peters also played well – hopefully not so well for Spurs to want to keep him.