Newcastle Home Lost 1 – 2
There are few football followers in Southampton (or Norwich, Watford or Burnley for that matter) who took Newcastle‘s Covid postponement of their January 2nd game at St. Mary’s at face value – there’s just this thought that the club’s current hierarchy would stop at very little to ensure Premiership survival. Whatever, the tactic should have come back to bite them as a new set of absences caused the Mags to field a weakened side in the re-arranged fixture anyway. Although the visitors made a spirited beginning, Saints were soon in control of the ball, although clear chances were scarce. Broja should have done better when freed by Adams, but the deadlock was broken on 25 minutes when Stuart Armstrong was the last Saint, and Burn the last player of either side, to get a touch as the ball dribbled over the line: good assists for Elyounoussi and Walker-Peters. Then, out of nowhere, Shelvey sent over a decent but hopeful cross that Wood sent into the net under a weak challenge by Salisu. The setback didn’t seem to upset Saints that much and the industrious Adams clattered the bar soon after. Until our recent good run, the break had often proved to be a turning point for the worse, and so it was this time as well. Early second half Newcastle pressure forced a corner headed back across goal by Burn and Guimäraes somehow managed to score with an outrageous back heel. Blow me down, they nearly did the same thing again minutes later as it again looked shambolic at the back, but Saints eventually started to dominate one more – although, again, expected goal chances were limited. Broja limped off, as is his wont, replaced by Adam Armstrong who found himself up against the giant Burn; not much chance of any joy in that match up. Instead, it took the belated introduction of Djneppo to spark a big finish that might have produced an equaliser – Dúbravka saved from Salisu and Stuart Armstrong while the run of the ball favoured the visitors during a couple of scrambles. In the end, though, a disappointing day at the office.
LSSC Man of the Match: Kyle Walker-Peters – no others truly enhanced their reputations.