Leeds Home Drew 2 – 2
A settled team has never been a feature of Ralph’s management so no surprise after a poor team performance at Spurs that 40% of his starting outfielders failed to make the second game: to face Leeds, in came Bella-Kotchap (on debut), Elyounoussi, Stuart Armstrong and Adams, and out went Valery, Romeu, Adam Armstrong and Aribo (that was a surprise). Armstrong was stopped from breaking clear by a last gasp tackle by Llorente that caused a possible red card VAR review and our player also went close with an involuntary rebound from a blocked shot, and Bella-Kotchap showed a good shooting technique, but it’s doubtful that Meslier had to make a save in a disappointing opening half, while Leeds did manage to work Bazunu on a couple of occasions. The opposition were the better team and it took just one attack for them to take the lead after the break; some half-hearted defending let Harrison get in a second phase cross met at the near post by Rodrigo Moreno who got between Bella-Kotchap and Bednarek. Saints were lining up their on-the-hour substitutions when a bad situation got worse, this time from a set piece when Struijk’s looping header was already causing Bazunu problems before Moreno made sure from what should have been an offside position – it wasn’t, because Lavia was having a bit of a dream. On came Adam Armstrong and Aribo, and within 30 seconds Aribo had managed a header on target. On 72 minutes Adam Armstrong combined with Adams down the left and Aribo decided not to involve Mesnier at all by taking the ball past him and poking it home between covering defenders. A further attacking substitute, Mara, was instrumental in ensuring Southampton didn’t end matchday two in bottom place. I suspect he only had two touches: one forcing a save in added time that could have won the game, the other a sublime pass inside the full back to allow Walker-Peters to close in on the near post and force the ball into the opposite corner. A Southampton winner would not have been deserved, but Leeds were no great shakes either, and that was their let-down.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
2. Kyle Walker-Peters. He’ll be the first to acknowledge the assist from Mara for a goal that nevertheless needed a good finish.
7. Joe Ayodele-Aribo. Only on the pitch for half an hour or so, but still comfortably our best forward.
37. Armel Bella-Kotchap. Caught the eye with some solid tackles and a surging first half run that ended with a powerful shot that went close.