Brighton Away Drew 2 – 2
As we were informed before the game at Brighton, home fans hadn’t celebrated an Amex goal since January. We were able to reassure the locals that they would find Saints more generous than most visitors, and they obliged within two minutes of the start: Forster, under pressure mostly from Salisu, spilled Trossard’s low cross and the loose ball was more or less bundled in by Welbeck. Salisu was one of six starting changes, and another, Livramento, came close to an equaliser with a shot from distance that hit Sánchez on the back as it rebounded off the post; often the ball then finds the net, but not this time. Ralph’s team had to do without Livramento for most of the game after a season-ending knee injury, but, Tino’s strike apart, the opening period continued to be as difficult as times had been at Burnley. Those leaving the arena early for half time refreshments should not have been surprised at missing a second Albion goal, put in by the hapless Salisu as he tried to prevent Trossard’s pass reaching Welbeck, then they would have been more disappointed at also missing the beginning of a Southampton comeback. Tella’s overall contribution was underwhelming but he can say he played a part in two key moments, the first being to earn a free kick in JW-P territory. Ward-Prowse‘s set piece prowess is founded on continual practice, but he must have persuaded a few colleagues to join in as Saints used a now rarely used ploy for their added time goal – two attackers jumping out of the wall to create space for a low shot in off the post. No personnel changes at the break, but maybe use of the hairdryer as a more determined Saints team took the game to their opponents, and on 54 minutes Tella found Romeu who in turn set up Ward-Prowse for another accurate strike, this time from open play, and only the second time this season we’ve had a player score more than once – the other was in the eight goal thrashing of Newport. There was every chance of going on to win the game but neither Stuart Armstrong nor out-of-sorts Broja could make a difference off the bench, and many were settling for a point anyway after a third Brighton goal was ruled out by both an offside flag and VAR: again a Trossard assist was the problem, finding Gross miles away from his marker, Salisu, and marginally closer to goal as well. So points shared in what was, after all, a very even contest with neither side possessing the class to take control of it.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse. I think we’ve all seen him play better overall, but we’d certainly have lost without him.