Everton Away Won 1 – 2
When Lavia limped out of the Manchester City Cup encounter, you’d have bet against him even featuring at Everton less than 70 hours later, but here he was in the starting line-up. No room for sentiment in Jones-the-boss’s selection as both scorers, Mara and Djenepo, found themselves on the bench where they were joined by new signings Oršić and Alcarez (the latter coming on instead of Lavia for the last half hour, but he hasn’t yet learned that at his new club it’s better not to pass to the team in blue). The Toffees, though, have plenty of their own problems, and also have to placate a delusional fan base who believe they support a ‘big’ club – on current PL form, this was a match-up of two of the league’s worst teams, and there wasn’t much to choose between them for all the effort expended on a critical fixture. Then, with half time approaching, Walker-Peters, operating on the left, conceded a corner with a right-footed tackle, Salisu missed his header, and home defender Onana most definitely didn’t. Ward-Prowse was still revelling in his more advanced role and, after passing instead of shooting with an earlier, similar opportunity, he might have levelled things just before the interval but Pickford, who made a bit of a meal of his save, managed to push the shot onto the post. No matter as JW-P found the net at the opposite end barely a minute of actual playing time later when, after a nice exchange with Adams, he was able to dance round Godfrey in the box and finish easily. Many games are decided by fine margins: a highly successful eight days might have turned out very differently had Crystal Palace taken a two goal lead instead of hitting the bar, and, here, Calvert-Lewin had a deflected shot that beat Bazunu for what could well have been a winner had it not come back off the bar, while Bazunu’s failure to collect a cross almost presented Godfrey with a goal. At the other end, Ward-Prowse had hit a speculative long distance free kick high and wide, but the odds were more in his favour when Gordon pushed Adams over a lot closer to goal: Pickford anticipated a shot to his left and was totally wrong-footed as Prowsie shot to the other side (and celebrated not with his mock golf drive but a simple little pretend put). That was on 78 minutes, but Goodison Park veterans amongst the visitors knew that a lot can go wrong very late on at this particular venue. Happily we suddenly have a confident Southampton while the home team could no doubt feel the mounting pressure in an environment we are (sadly) very used to as they eventually had to leave the field defeated and to a chorus of boos.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
8. James Ward-Prowse. Obviously!
10, Ché Adams. In theory two assists as he was fouled for the winning free kick.
27. Ibrahima Diallo. Let’s hear it for Ibrahima who has done well after his recall in the 87th minute at Crystal Palace.