FA Cup Semi Final Wembley Leicester Lost 1 – 0
More by reasons of necessity than superstition, many of us did without a haircut whilst Saints were still in the 2021 F.A. Cup – was it our barbers’ or hairdressers’ fault that it all went wrong in the semi final? It may have been superstition rather than good taste that sent the team out in the red, rather than white, sash outfit to face Leicester but Ralph’s threatened mass changes after a less than mediocre display against West Brom didn’t really materialise. Neither did much of a threat to Schmeichel’s goal (in fact no shot at all for him to save), as Saints fell between two methods of play. In one, they happily let more gifted attacking players come at them until such a time that they are confident enough to go forward themselves – it often works, at least when we have eleven men on the pitch (oops, nearly mentioned a 0-9 there), but with all due respect, Leicester don’t really justify that approach. In the other, we are the aggressors, being all over our opponents in the opening half – but we’ve either forgotten how to do that, or we’ve lost our nerve. To be fair, Forster was troubled about as much as Schmeichel, but there was a direct shot that came his way, and it found its way into the net. That was on 55 minutes in a play that BT Sport’s pundit described as ‘a great goal.’ Really? True, Vardy did well to get away from Walker-Peters and his pace made for a dangerous break from halfway, but Iheanacho‘s first-time shot was going yards wide… until it hit Vestergaard and an unfortunate ricochet gave him a second chance that was duly taken. Time for Southampton to respond with some attacking play of their own, and on came Adams to replace Redmond – it could have been for any of the starters really, Ings certainly included. Walcott, dropped from the last game, was introduced after a 73 minute contribution from Djenepo and finally we went to a back three to accommodate Tella, but no-one ever seemed like making a telling move after a ten minute period just before the goal when Saints had briefly looked the better side. “I cannot say that we didn’t leave everything on the pitch today” says Ralph. Working my way through the double negative, I think that means he thought his boys did what they could against difficult opponents, which at least is a positive thought when most of us were thinking negatively. Wish I hadn’t visited the barber, though.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jan Bednarek. No point going to the BBC for advice this time as they came up with the mostly unemployed Forster, followed by the underemployed Ings. I remember an important Bednarek header from under his own bar, but he may have made a few errors as well.