FA Cup Quarter Final Bournemouth Away Won 0 – 3
Ralph sent out his strongest available team to face Bournemouth in the Cup – an obvious decision most of us would say, but there are certainly coaches out there who would have taken a different approach. Under ‘old normal’ conditions, the lucky 11,000 to cram into that tiny stadium would have created a great atmosphere, but we’re a year into ‘new normal’ now and commentary talk was of the lower tiered side taking things cautiously in the opening stages, instead of using the crowd’s fervour to discomfort fragile Southampton. Thus not too much of a surprise when Saints had the ball in the net on ten minutes, courtesy of home defender Carter-Vickers after Walker-Peters tried to find Adams rather than shoot at goal himself when released by Bednarek. VAR, rather than the crowd, turned out to be the Cherries’ twelfth man in this game, and its first intervention was to rule our player offside – a correct decision despite barely adequate picture angles. Instead we had to wait a further 27 minutes before celebrating again, and this time not prematurely as Djenepo, in for Tella, ran on to Redmond’s pass to score with his favoured right foot despite playing on the left. A second goal in time added on for VAR made for a pleasant interval break, with Redmond this time supplying the finish as well as the key break – and a very good finish it was, too. Still plenty of time for things to go wrong, and Wilshere rippling the side netting just after the restart was a timely reminder. However it wasn’t long before the ball was in the Bournemouth net again thanks to a confident finish by Adams… and a minute or so later it was back to 0-2 as VAR spotted Armstrong offside in the build up. A couple of Bournemouth subs failed to disrupt Saints who were back to their pressing best when they put the squeeze on the home defence, forcing an error that resulted in Armstrong firing against the post and Redmond dispatching the rebound in a manner than recalled Armstrong’s goal at Wolves in the same competition. With a three goal cushion, Ralph had the luxury of being able to replace both his centre backs to protect them from second yellow cards and his team saw the game out comfortably enough – Bournemouth’s four substitutions seemed to bring on more and more attacking players at a time when they were getting less and less possession.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond of course – for two goals and an assist. The game had started quietly for him, though, and it may prove important that he seems to have regained the confidence to run at players again.