Leeds Home Lost 0 – 2
Still no Bednarek as Saints faced Leeds, but on the other hand there were 8,000 season ticket holders at St. Mary’s to witness the occasion – in all likelihood the first live football in over a year for many. Mask wearing seemed to be better observed than at many grounds, a discipline not tested by being able to cheer a home goal. With no Ings in the starting XI, the attack was led by Adams and Walcott, newly re-acquired as a fully fledged Saint, and Adams twice tested Casilla in the opening exchanges. As well as allowing a respectable crowd, the latest regulations enabled a post match debrief over a glass or two, and it’s here I discovered I held a minority view of the first half: despite Leeds having zero shots on target, I thought the visitors were looking the more likely to break the deadlock; the other half was to bear that out decisively. Both sides used their bench at the break, with Ings replacing Adams but, crucially, Sr. Bielsa made a tactical switch with his double-sub ploy. The second period began promisingly with a Ward-Prowse free kick clipping the angle of post and bar, but then McCarthy saved from Dallas as Leeds began to get on top. Hesitancy by the Saints keeper almost let Bamford in and the striker’s complaints about being denied a penalty because he kept his feet after McCarthy’s challenge have some validity. Our stopper’s last personal clean sheet was back in December but a repeat was in sight before another error allowed Bamford this time to trickle the ball through his legs; with no visiting support, the stadium fell silent, although you couldn’t quite hear Ralph’s curses at this latest ‘coach-killer’ lapse by our back line. We could still have gone home happy enough with a point but a late swivelling shot by Ings went wide and then Stephens headed a presentable chance too close to Casilla. Almost immediately play switched to the other end and although McCarthy saved from Bamford, Roberts was on hand to sidefoot the loose ball into the net.
LSSC Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong – to make a change from JW-P. Quite a few associates in the after game enquiry went for Salisu, who does look a promising work-in-progress, but this was accompanied by an analysis that Bielsa ultimately succeeded by exploiting a perceived weakness on our left flank – you can’t have it both ways.