Brighton Home Drew 1 – 1
Another broadcast provider for our penultimate home game, with SFC funding season ticket holders’ access to BT’s coverage. Ralph finally gave in to an increasingly compressed fixture list and made significant changes to the side to face Brighton, although keeping essentially the same formation; particularly notable were his choices of full back – Vokins on the left for a Premier League debut and Højbjerg on the right. The first opportunity of the match fell to Højbjerg, and a very presentable one it was, but he shot at an easy height for Ryan to save whereas an on-target low left-foot effort would surely have scored. Things rather fell away after that and it wasn’t entirely a surprise when the visitors took the lead on 17 minutes, with Southampton’s central defenders confused by the movement of Brighton’s strikers from a throw in, Vestergaard more concerned by Maupay’s whereabouts before realising he should be watching Murray – and then our old Nemesis found Maupay who scored. The crisp passing that has characterised Saints’ play since the resumption was missing, but at least Ings got the ball in the net, albeit off the crossbar and a defender, but an offside flag (Mrs. Massey-Ellis again) made attribution immaterial. A double change at half time (Walker-Peters and Adams on, Højbjerg moved into midfield) must have been accompanied by some harsh words as the whole team performed better in the second period: Vokins came close with a long shot, Ings hit the bar, with Adams’ follow-up just about kept out by Dunk, and then Ings fired across goal with no-one getting a touch. When a first time pass from Redmond brought the equaliser, and Ings‘ 20th Premier League strike of the season, a home win suddenly looked the most likely result – and it may have come from the most unlikely source of Vestergaard whose super-charged shot from distance was somehow tipped onto the underside of the bar by Ryan. Remembering last season’s comeback by the visitors, it’s far from certain a 2-1 would have resulted and indeed Bissouma should have netted for them with time running out, but unlike at Old Trafford, this draw, like that at Goodison, felt like points lost.
LSSC Man of the Match: Danny Ings, for second half effort – although he has often played better.