Brentford Home Won 4 – 1
And so it came to pass that Covid didn’t thwart the Premier League’s plans to provide Southampton with five consecutive London opponents in their competition, the Brentford game becoming the first of our re-arranged fixtures. It was also a rare opportunity for the team to play in front of an owner, with The Dragan* shown sitting in Markus’s old seat, but I suspect the presence of Brentford old boy Rasmus Ankerson in the regime will be more significant – maybe something to mull over at a less eventful game. Saints took an early lead when Bednarek headed Ward-Prowse’s perfectly delivered corner past diminutive visiting keeper Fernández – officially listed as 6’1″ but looking far shorter than that. Fernández was to get his name on the scoresheet as well, restoring the lead on 37 minutes when Diallo’s shot came back off the post only to end up in the net, having collided with the keeper’s inadequate dive. In between, the Bees had equalised through an impressive first-time finish by Janelt from Mbeumo’s cross that came as a surprise as well as a setback, but we were playing well enough to have deserved a half time advantage. Turning such a situation into three points has been proving tricky for some time and Brentford’s approach to the beginning of the second period gave plenty of indication that things could get awkward. That was until Broja put his team further ahead with an excellent solo goal, aided by Romeu’s assist; Broja always looks able to provide this sort of threat when one-on-one with a centre back, which is why I’m happiest when he is our sole striker. For this match, he started with Redmond for company up front, replaced by Adams with 25 minutes left, and the sub soon provided his team with a near-unique three goal cushion: the visitors had swapped centre backs and substitute Jensen was in no position to deal with Diallo’s long ball forward (more likely a clearance), leaving Adams to poke the ball over poor Fernández. It was always hard to figure out these opponents’ game plan, but it was now in tatters anyway, with Saints well in control. That’s when we’re at our most vulnerable, of course, and it needed a fine effort by Ward-Prowse to get back to stop Wissa, although JW-P was now operating at full back, and should have been in a better position. Brentford went close again as the corner caused absolute panic at the back and in the end there was some good fortune in achieving a second half shut-out, although the points were never in doubt after Broja’s goal.
LSSC Man of the Match: Romain Perraud. With Valery now suspended, Walker-Peters still Covid positive and Livramento still injured, Ralph went with a back three, but with Tella and Perraud operating as wing backs. Attacker Tella surprised with his defensive play (maybe could have done better with the goal conceded?) while defender Perraud showed unexpected creative abilities, including a header well saved.
* There’s more than one Dragan Šolak, a younger one being a chess grand master. Microsoft’s search engine currently describes him thus: ” Dragan Šolak is a Turkish-Serbian chess grandmaster. He also now hates Portsmouth fc.” (I’m not making this up!)