Burnley Home Won 3 – 2
Ralph brought back fit again duo Ings and Walcott to face Burnley, and he also had Ward-Prowse available despite an injury problem on international duty, while Forster continued in goal and was called into action in the very first minute to touch Wood’s shot past the post. Play switched to the other end in a hectic beginning, but it soon became apparent that Saints were struggling against lowly opponents, and while the manner of how they went behind was unfortunate, it was hardly unexpected: there didn’t seem to be an issue when Pieters’ cross was cleared but VAR drew referee Marriner’s attention to Walker-Peters’ unnecessary and late challenge – to be fair, he didn’t spend long in front of the monitor, and Wood duly scored from the spot. The visitors soon doubled their lead with a move definitely out of the route one playbook, but expertly executed with Vydra volleying Wood’s headed assist past Forster. Pieters managed to collide with his own teammate and required treatment before returning to the fray in time to see Armstrong pull Southampton back into the game with a nice finish following Ings’ touch. Pieters then had to be substituted but the Clarets’ defence was now looking a bit of a mess and rampant Saints were able to turn round on level terms thanks to Ings running clear of Mee, outwitting Tarkowski’s challenge and nutmegging Pope. The half time whistle didn’t affect new found home confidence and a third goal always looked likely: Ward-Prowse hit the underside of the bar, Ings’ follow-up was headed off the line and then Pope made a fine save to deny Armstrong. The keeper was also at full stretch to keep out Ings, but Walcott was first to the loose ball and he kept calm to lob it over to the far post where Redmond also didn’t panic as he volleyed in from close range. There were now around 25 minutes remaining and Burnley upped their game to make the most of it; their followers would have been encouraged every time they came forward (or even just had possession, with route one still a weapon) while Saints always looked likely on the break. With 12 minutes left, Rodriguez came off the bench, a move answered by Southampton introducing Salisu for Armstrong which meant an end to most of our counters. In a way, this was a bold move by Ralph as he’d certainly have faced criticism had an equaliser ensued – maybe he’s seen enough of our defence in recent weeks to realise they need all the help they can get. As it turned out most of that help came from Forster, including blocking Wood’s header from point-blank range. We were also grateful for man-made fibre in this incident as the VAR reviewer chose to overlook Bednarek’s tug on Wood’s top, but might have found it more difficult to ignore a torn cotton shirt. Adams was on the pitch come overtime and should have added to his World Cup goal four days earlier when sent clear, but he failed to get a shot on target – no matter as only 30 seconds were left on the game clock, and that wasn’t enough for frustrated Burnley to get back over the half way line.
LSSC Man of the Match: Danny Ings, as it must be for an assist, a fine solo goal and a prominent part in the third goal.
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