West Ham Away Won 2 – 3
A run of three successive games in London ended at West Ham in front of what seemed to be an inordinate number of empty seats. It was wet at Arsenal, but then it briefly rained Southampton goals in the first half at Palace and the deluge continued at The London Stadium, with Elyounoussi‘s fine snap shot giving Saints an 8th minute lead – the sort of finish we should try more often. Nothing unusual about this start: whether we score that deserved early goal or not, the result always seems to be the same. The Hammers’ response was only fitful really, and we now had our best keeper, Forster, back between the sticks, and he was able to palm away Vlaŝić’s shot to preserve the lead until half time. That’s usually when things go wrong, with Southampton unable to cope with tactical changes by the opposition, and sure enough, there was substitute Antonio limbering up, ready to score his customary goal in this fixture. It didn’t take long: four minutes, in fact, with Dawson heading a corner back across goal and Antonio in turn heading home from close range, a goal confirmed after a VAR review for offside. Ralph continued with just Broja up front, a formation that gets the best out of our on-loan talent, as demonstrated just before the hour when he found himself up against Dawson; only one winner in that contest and Dawson could only stop the forward with a foul outside the box, although referee Friend awarded a corner. VAR then persuaded him to consult the monitor, inconveniently sited towards the other end of the ground, to review a second effort by Dawson within the area. Officials always seem to agree on the outcome in these situations (even to rescind our ‘penalty’ at Manchester City), so it was no surprise when Friend pointed to a far-off spot as he began his trot back upfield. Ward-Prowse kept his head from the spot, and Saints were ahead again. This lead didn’t last very long at all, with Elyounoussi claiming a foul as he lost possession and, with players stranded out of position, Benrahma slotted home an all-too-easy equaliser from Bowen’s cross. Elyounoussi’s complaints were soon forgotten when Walker-Peters won a soft free kick and Bednarek got on the end of Ward-Prowse’s delivery to score an unlikely third Southampton goal. Twenty scheduled minutes plus five of added time still remained, but the visitors approached them sensibly, although we were glad to have Forster rather than Caballero dealing with some awkward corners, and then Boxing Day could be celebrated with three welcome points in the bag.
LSSC Man of the Match:Mohammed Salisu, helping to keep normally prolific opponents at bay.