West Bromwich Away Lost 3 – 0
West Brom manager Allardyce described his team’s game with Saints as “must win.” I don’t like that way of thinking, as what do you do if you don’t win? Just give up? Still, Big Sam’s words had the desired effect on Albion as they were far more “up” for the contest than the visitors, who looked like a group just going through the motions and with more than half an eye on Wembley. It took just four minutes for the ball to be in Forster’s net although Diagne’s header clearly looked as though it was from an offside position. The assistant referee agreed, but of course we had to check; it would have been clearer had Vestergaard stepped out with a bit more urgency, but every time I look at the replays, Diagne seems offside – we still had plenty of different angles to mull over before VAR concurred. Southampton didn’t seem disposed to take advantage and Diagne missed a legitimate chance before Maitland-Niles sent over a teasing low cross that tempted Forster off his line, and the keeper’s lunge only caught Pereira, who scored from the spot himself. Although it’s not the way Ralph wants his team to play, there is a case for keeping Ings well away from his own half where he is inclined to contribute to self-inflicted damage, and this game was no exception; Danny’s wayward back pass went straight to Diagne whose deep, low cross was met by Phillips at the back post for a close range goal. The TV company covering this game were also offering the option of IPL cricket so I missed the start of the second period thanks to an exciting last ball finish in Mumbai; it was a bit of a surprise to tune back in and find Saints unchanged but if Ralph has a hairdryer, it looked as though he had used it as the starting eleven were at last making a contribution to the game. It didn’t mean we weren’t capable of going further behind, though, thanks to a 69th minute route two goal when Robinson ran through an embarrassingly porous defence, All the home side had to do was play sensibly and against off-form opponents, that wasn’t too difficult. At least substitute Adams had a decent enough shot that went just wide, but our real opportunity to get on the scoresheet came in added time when referee Hooper gave a penalty for a foul on Djenepo, although VAR might have found a similar result in Armstrong’s favour seconds earlier. The current vogue, as demonstrated by Pereira, is for straight-down-the-middle but Ward-Prowse, assuming spot duties with Ings off the pitch, has shown his hand in that respect so chose to shoot to Johnstone’s right, but at a saveable height… and this was ‘one of those days.’ There have been a lot of them in 2021 from the League’s softest touches.
LSSC Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong. I admit looking at the BBC’s individual scores for guidance and I’m happy enough with Armstrong, who recorded a moderate 4.61 out of 10; his nearest rival was Adams, who only appeared after 76 minutes.