Norwich Away Lost 2 – 1
Norwich v Southampton was an unlikely fixture to make it to the record books, but Dean Smith’s rapid re-employment to end up facing the same opponents in successive games but for different clubs will make him a quiz subject for years to come. That, and a bunch of untidy goals, was just about enough to take this affair out of last place on MotD, with the first scrappy goal scored by Saints after just four minutes: Adam Armstrong scared out-of-depth defenders and Adams was on hand to force the ball past Krul’s unconvincing dive – Krul is arguably the 20th best keeper in the Premier League, but luckily for his team, one of his rivals for that position was also on display – more of him later. Ralph was without Redmond, on fatherhood duties, and also Stuart Armstrong and Djnepo due to injury. It left us rather narrow in midfield so Livramento and Walker-Peters were told to push up where possible; KW-P did just that soon after the opening goal but lost possession as, not for the only time, referee Atkinson couldn’t quite see his way to giving Southampton the benefit of a marginal decision. When the ball was moved forward up an unguarded right wing, Aarons was able to cross for Pukki to dive and head an equaliser inside McCarthy’s near post – not a great moment as this effort should certainly have been stopped. Just a bit more scoring aptitude at the other end would have made it a blip rather than a setback as Saints otherwise dominated the opening period but they turned around level and faced a reorganised Norwich with a half time substitution affecting their midfield. Suddenly the home side seemed more eager, as well as more assured ‘on the ball’ so we looked to our coach to make a move of his own. That came on 57 minutes when Broja replaced Elyounoussi, leaving us with three forwards who (unsurprisingly) didn’t know how to play this formation, and in a situation where it was our midfield who were struggling to cope. That state of affairs lasted for just five minutes, when Walcott came on to provide more width, but he replaced not the ineffective Armstrong but the industrious Adams. Maybe the changes had some effect as, although Norwich remained on the front foot, they weren’t looking too much like scoring; but why not make another change anyway, maybe taking off our best player? Ralph did just that, with Lyanco on for Romeu – at least it would strengthen out arial defence… or so you’d think. Instead, centre back Hanley came up to get on the end of a 79th minute corner and beat McCarthy’s impression of a sack of coal. Still time enough for Saints to rescue a point from a game we should have won comfortably but Walcott fluffed his chance with a header and Smith proved to be the winner on a bad day at the office for not just our goalkeeper but our coach as well.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriel Romeu, at least whilst he was on the pitch.