Newcastle Away Drew 2 – 2
After an enjoyable excursion to Newport, most of the usual suspects returned to face Newcastle, but there were still places for Elyounoussi after his hat trick, and Walker-Peters, again filling in at left back as at the end of the last league game. The first half followed a familiar pattern that is both encouraging and frustrating: we were well on top but not scoring enough, or, in this case, any goals. It wasn’t for want of opportunities but Djnepo managed to shoot over from a couple of yards out (OK, maybe offside) and then fail with a double opportunity when set up by Adam Armstrong. We could have been three up at the interval with the home team only looking dangerous on the break but the fragility of the actual situation was underlined when under-fire keeper McCarthy did well to keep out Wilson after a late corner. There are few things certain in football but one is that after such an opening 45, this Southampton side would concede within ten minutes of the restart. Sure enough the opening goal came on 55 minutes, with Wilson stooping to head in Murphy’s cross once Silusu had decided not to make a risky intervention. Ralph brought on Redmond and Broja and the former was to prove inspirational but my thoughts were turning towards what to do for my Bank Holiday afternoon sporting entertainment when suddenly Saints were level: Redmond produced an inviting cross aimed at Broja but it fell for Elyounoussi who gave Djenepo a lesson in how to keep the ball down at the far post, even though his first effort was saved by Woodman and the ball had to be bundled in on the rebound. The next couple of minutes were chaotic for the Saints defence and most fans would have settled for a point at this stage, even those hoping for more at three o’clock. To their credit, the team regrouped and were still pushing forward into added time, even though the Mags only seemed potent on breakaways. A break duly came and it was started and finished by Saint-Maximin, a result that seemed inevitable once Salisu went to ground when challenging Joelinton, and despite Ward-Prowse’s best efforts with Fraser’s shot. There was still a twist to come thanks to Redmond’s clever pass to Adam Armstrong; the forward was just about to attempt to get the ball past Woodman only for Lascelles to take his striking foot away for what looked a clear penalty. Referee Tierney disagreed at first but was persuaded by VAR to change his mind, leaving Ward-Prowse with a pressure spot kick – a lot of time and money invested by the travelling fans was resting on it! JW-P’s penalty record is decent but not flawless, so a lot of people were very relieved when he converted, the goal timed at 90 + 6, although the review accounts for most of the plus element. Honours even on Tyneside then, with Saints certainly deserving something, but not secure enough at the back to keep the home side at bay.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse, not so much for the pen. as for minimising Newcastle’s opportunities to counter-attack. Both Elyounoussi and Livramento have good cases for their first half performances.