Newcastle Away Lost 3 – 2
In normal times, most of the weekend of the match at Newcastle would have been spent fretting about how the weather might affect transport. But these are not normal times, and after casting an envious eye over 30,000 fans enjoying the BBL final at the Sydney Cricket Ground (without a mask in sight), the best that could be done was to shout at a screen as more awful Southampton defending meant another pointless day. No real excuses as returning players and a new acquisition gave us a proper Premier League line-up; it had Stephens at right back, though, and he was out of position several times, including when Bednarek was drawn over to challenge Saint-Maximin unsatisfactorily and Willock scored from the cross. Having praised Bednarek a couple of games ago, his world has fallen apart, and when he diverted Almirón’s shot past McCarthy for a second o.g. in five days, he must have wished that the red card at Old Trafford had stood; he hasn’t suddenly become a bad player, but you make your own luck, and quite why he was stood in front of the keeper is unclear. Then suddenly Saints were back in the game, thanks to loanee Minamino on debut: a fine individual goal on 30 minutes. We were even on the attack well into first half added time, but then Redmond decided to go backwards and McCarthy decided to try to pass to Bertrand who wasn’t paying attention… Almirón did the rest. But then we were back in it again, this time thanks to another spectacular Ward-Prowse free kick. The team need a bit of fortune and some came their way when Hendrick, already on a caution, pulled back Minamino to receive his marching orders. Ings hit the post and had a shot cleared off the line when it was 10 v. 11, prompting Newcastle to make their final substitution, which should have turned out disastrously for them as defender Schär had to be stretchered off with over 20 minutes left. Southampton’s performance defending with nine at Manchester had been on the bad side of pathetic, but it helps to be a goal ahead rather than umpteen adrift and the Toon dug in. Maybe a sodden pitch didn’t work in our favour (although it made it near impossible for the home side to break out) but Saints didn’t create anything memorable with a two man advantage as Minamino became anonymous and Ings, Adams and substitute N’Lundulu seemed to be getting in each other’s way. Another big disappointment, but at least no long journey home to worry about.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu, the only one of our players to look back on the first half with satisfaction.