Wolverhampton Home Lost 1 – 2
A feature of a Nathan Jones team sheet was that you still didn’t have any idea who would be playing where. Fine to keep the opposition guessing, but there’s every chance that our players were just as confused, as was the rest of the world with the manager’s post-match comments at Brentford. Against Wolves, Solemana and Onachu made the starting XI within the former soon impressing with his genuine pace that the visitors’ own starters struggled to cope with. Wanderers’ early approach seemed to be to tackle hard and Lemina received a yellow card for a foul on Alcaraz that could easily have been of a different colour. Lemina was indeed to see red on 27 minutes for his protests to referee Gillett; unfortunate for him if the Wolverhampton explanation of what went on is correct, but it does sound doubtful. By then Saints were already in front thanks to a nicely taken first goal for Alcaraz, shooting in off the post, and with Wolves having contributed little in the opening half, hopes were high of a rare win, and even rarer home win. Those hopes were dashed by a series of attacking substitutions, beginning with Traore at half time, along with defender Bueno, who was far better at coping with Solemana than his predecessor. Solemana was quick enough to get to an overhit pass from Maitland-Niles but not quite quick enough to get round Sá, but the astonishing tale of the second half is the way Saints conceded possession to their opponents’ ten men and the messiest of equalisers was certainly not against the run of play – Bednarek summed up the ugliness of the situation by more or less dribbling the ball into his own net. Cue some long overdue Southampton substitutions, but it was Wolves who remained on the front foot and they eventually profited when Saints again contributed hugely to their own demise: Maitland-Niles and Solemana managed to run into each other, allowing Gomes a run on goal – his first effort was blocked, but the ball dropped for him to fire in a second attempt for an unlikely winner. Southampton had two free kicks in J W-P territory, including in added time, but twice they tried something cleverer, twice coming close but ultimately missing.
No manager can legislate for the confusion that led to the winning goal. Whether it was that which cost Jones his job, we’ll never know, although anything else would only have been delaying the inevitable. He came in to recollections of the Supremes hit “Nathan Jones” but departs to a final 45 minutes coaching best described up by a Nobel laureate: “Something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?” (Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, 1965).
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
20. Kalmadeen Solemana. He is clearly a very good player who we are lucky to have, but ultimately he cost us the game!
26. Charly Alcatraz, although he only lasted until our second set of substitutions.
45. Roméo Lavia. We already knew he was good.