Watford Home Lost 1 – 2
No Livramento to face Watford, and no Broja either – presumably he had only recovered from a knock sufficiently enough to be confined to the bench. Somehow that led to a place for Smalbone who found himself paired with Adams up front – we can only guess at how that went down with Adam Armstrong and Long. When Elyounoussi saw his header cleared off the line in the opening minute, it didn’t look as though there would be much to worry about anyway, and it took the visitors a while to establish a toehold in the game. They did so, though, even before Southampton defending that almost defies description gifted them the opening goal. Almost… so here goes. Bednarek started a three-part comedy of errors with an underhit backpass that Forster just about rescued, but with some danger. Ball back with Bednarek again, and this time he decided to go back to Salisu, and, wouldn’t you know it, he also underhit his pass back to the keeper who was beaten to the ball by Hernández, hitherto a bemused but eager onlooker in the farce, but now able to put his side ahead. Saints in general, not just on the pitch, look as though they’ve begun to believe their recent publicity (a dangerous way to go), and no more than Salisu. He also had a sort of part in Watford’s second, having been drawn out of position, but this time Walker-Peters was more at fault with some lazy tracking back; when Kucka crossed, Perraud was left to cope with two opponents and didn’t cover either terribly well, so Hernández was able to volley home. With the visitors now looking stronger in every position, everybody with Saints at heart desperately needed something before the break, and we got it, courtesy of Elyounoussi after Adams had touched on a 45th minute free kick. That was it for Smallbone, but Broja has been out of sorts himself lately and failed to provide the spark to start a revival. Ralph then tried Romeu as part of a back three, but that only brought a booking for the Spaniard and a substitution ‘just in case’ as the plan was soon dropped. Bednarek received a similar punishment which could easily have been much worse and time was running out well before there was renewed hope with a Ward-Prowse free kick after a tame foul on Adams, but JW-P was really too close to goal to beat the wall and get the ball down below the bar. An even later shout for a handball penalty seemed more realistic when viewed again, but VAR didn’t rescue a team who were out-fought and out-coached by solid but not gifted opponents.
LSSC Man of the Match. Kyle Walker-Peters again, not withstanding my doubts about some of his play.