Manchester City Home FA Cup Quarter Final Lost 1 – 4
Items in the press and, indeed, on the SFC web site, featuring Caballero seemed to be indicating an F.A. Cup berth for ‘Big Willy’ but Forster was chosen to face Manchester City. At this point in the competition, we’d expect Ralph to be taking it seriously, but eyebrows were raised at the selection of Adam Armstrong and Long up front; less so at Bednarek’s absence from the squad, on the assumption that he must be injured – not so as it turns out. The opposition put the uncertain Zack Steffen in goal and it didn’t quite seem to be their strongest line-up, but with rotation a norm for them, who can tell? Armstrong (A) came oh so close to giving his side the lead following good work by Livramento and Romeu and his scuffed shot was just right to beat Steffen, but didn’t take the required deflection off the post. Within minutes, City were ahead when Stephens, stretching for the ball, miscued and enabled Jesus to find Sterling who scored an easy goal. Adam Armstrong couldn’t match him with a second, more difficult, chance, but fortune finally favoured Southampton in first half added time when Elyounoussi beat Steffen to the ball and pulled it back for Laporte, rather obligingly, to put through his own goal. Of course no-one was expecting this Saints forward line to be putting City under too much pressure, but we were well in with a chance until Salisu had one of his ‘coach-killer’ moments just past the hour: Jesus was going nowhere on the edge of the box until the defender opted for a clumsy challenge that was more like a push, and a penalty was an easy decision for Mr Dean. (The uncharitable will say that this particular official could hardly wait to point to the spot, but, to be fair, we had little to complain about his performance.) DeBruyne just about managed to beat the giant frame of Forster from the spot and cue the introduction of Adams and Broja. The general view was that the previous pairing actually posed more of a problem, but there was a golden chance for a Southampton equaliser when Elyounoussi fed Adams rather than have a go himself; Adams’ shot was well struck, perhaps too well, and Steffen was not over extended. Again it didn’t take long for the visitors to respond to a scare and this time there wasn’t much anyone on our side could do about their third goal – a fine strike from Foden, on for Grealish, and, one would have thought, always a better option at club or international level. A few more question marks about goal number four shortly afterwards, with another sub, Mahrez, somewhat nonchalantly confusing both Walker-Peters and Forster with a surprise near post shot. A flattering scoreline for them could have got even uglier for us, but both sides were happy to stroll through out the concluding minutes in the afternoon sunshine.
LSSC Man of the Match. Tino Livramento with his best game since returning from injury.