Sheffield Wednesday EFL Cup 3rd Round 90 minutes 1 -1 Won 6 – 5 on Penalties
The EFL Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday was to be Rubén Sellés’ only game in charge (of the latest inter-regnum, anyway) so you’d have thought wholesale experimentation was probably beyond his pay grade: nine starting changes ensued, however, with a few being injury-related. Saints began promisingly, as you rather hope they would against League One opposition, but Wednesday were stubborn and all of a sudden took a 24th minute lead after Adam Armstrong decided hard work against this team was below him (that will have gone down well with the watching manager-elect), allowing Windass to be sent clear for a finish that wasn’t really Alex McCarthy’s finest hour. Stockdale at the other end performed a miracle to deny Aribo heading home a free kick but an attack of Edozie, Mara and A. Armstrong was proving lightweight against defenders from the league of hard knocks. Shortly before half time Mara’s penalty appeals were waved away (it looked a good shout to me but the incident didn’t even make SFC’s highlights package) but then in added time referee Brooks pointed to the spot after a foul on Djneppo and Ward-Prowse scored down the middle. Salisu, totally out of sorts at left back, was replaced by Perraud at the break and a much improved Southampton performance saw them dominate the second period. The best opportunity was gifted to Walcott by Stockdale: the first effort to score into an unguarded net was so weak that Ihiekwe comfortably got back to clear; Walcott got to the loose ball first and his second shot proved little better in terms of either direction or power, and Ihiekwe cleared again. Substitute Stuart Armstrong curled a shot against the bar as Saints threatened to win the game in playing time, and then Walcott seemed to be fouled on the edge of the area when breaking clear, but Ward-Prowse’s next contribution wasn’t to be a free kick but to get the penalty competition underway. McCarthy nearly saved Smith’s opener for the visitors, but the first eleven spot kicks found their target, with Southampton’s looking the better despite doubts about both the takers and their technique. It was centre back Dele-Bashiru who eventually broke the streak when McCarthy kicked clear with his trailing leg, and that was it for a night which went on longer than it should have.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
8. James Ward-Prowse. As ever, the captain wants to play every minute.
9. Adam Armstrong, who also lasted the full distance (and scored his penalty).
27. Ibrahima Diallo. Have you seen how I’m doing this? Diallo was the last of the 90 minute boys who wasn’t a defender, and he too converted from the spot.