Wolverhampton Away FA Cup 5th Round Won 0 – 2
Back in the day, Thursday teatime meant Blue Peter, but this is 2021 so it was necessary to tune in to 5th round Cup action from Wolverhampton. Saints made five changes for this important game so were without Minamino (cup tied), Vestergaard (maybe not ready for three games in eight days?), McCarthy (not featuring in the F.A. Cup squad), Stephens and Adams (both ‘rested’). It didn’t look to be the best of draws as Wolves are believed to take the competition more seriously than most, but they went with a weakened starting XI, albeit with a strong bench, and were under considerable early pressure – it was fully 15 minutes before the ball went anywhere near Forster. Once the game evened out, eyes were on our long-delayed debutant, Salisu, a player who looks comfortable on the ball, but who doesn’t like to be made uncomfortable by a Premier League level ‘press.’ A tackle by Salisu on Gibbs-White drew penalty appeals, turned down by both referee Moss and VAR: in fact Mr. Moss had one of his best Southampton games and wasn’t fazed by a number of home players enjoying the Molyneux undersoil heating during prolonged rolls in the grass on a cold evening. Saints should have made their possession stats count soon after the restart but Armstrong miscued in front of an open goal and would have been the most relieved player when his team finally broke the deadlock on 49 minutes. This was a very modern affair, coming when Ings was played through by Bertrand but failed to ‘nutmeg’ Ruddy, only to see the ball rebound into the net inadvertently off his stride. Danny failed to celebrate, partly out of embarrassment perhaps, but mainly due to a flag… but this is indeed 2021 and for the first time in several games a marginal offside decision went our way. Redmond played this one up front, which didn’t fully suit him, especially when he failed to convert a situation created for him by Armstrong, the shot going to safety off Ruddy’s thigh. Meanwhile most of the game was being played away from Forster, but what I like about this keeper is that there is so much of him to get past – including his size 12 (I’m guessing) boots that rescued his side, and Salisu in particular, with a save from substitute Traore. Ralph introduced Adams and Tella to see out the game without extra time and the latter was instrumental in a nerve-settling 90th minute goal by Armstrong, whose aim this time was true. We were being greedy if we wanted a third, but the chance seemed to be there for the taking when Moss pointed to the spot after a foul on Tella, which VAR rightly found to be outside the box.
LSSC Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong. Clearly our best player, but that wouldn’t have counted for anything had his second half miss been crucial.