London Saints

Newcastle Away Lost 3 – 1

Five changes to the team as they set about gaining an unlikely result at Newcastle, mainly to accommodate a move to three-at-the-back, and with Djenepo and Walker-Peters deployed as wing backs. There was a scare for the big bucks team in the opening minute, but poor final execution after Sulemana got himself into a dangerous position allowed Pope to save relatively easily from Walker-Peters. Inevitably the home side began to dominate but Gordon first hit the side netting and then the outside of the post, both from good positions, while Guimarães fired over, also when well placed. Seeing the deadlock broken wasn’t top of our agenda, but there was joy in the away end when it was, shortly before the interval: a move started by Lavia and Alcaraz was continued decisively by Suleman who crossed for Stuart Armstrong to score from close range. Maybe our remaining purpose in the Premier League is to upset the occasional opponent, but I didn’t expect it to come at Arsenal, and now could it happen here? Cue another of those half time changes that always seem to scare the hell out of Southampton: Wilson on for Gordon. The end result suggests that it was Wilson who made all the difference, but there were other influences, with Isak moved over to the left to exploit the naivety of Djenepo and Lyanco on that flank. Isak is a big handful for any defender and our players were struggling with him well before he set up Wilson‘s 54th minute equaliser with a sharp finish. We needed to do something about our line-up, and introducing Walcott for Djenepo seemed sensible enough, even if it went sadly wrong. Of more concern were the changes with 70 minutes played that led to a distinctly wonky period that changed the game for good: was Maitland-Niles for Lyanco, Elyounoussi for Stuart Armstrong and, later, Adam Armstrong for Sulemana really going to help our cause? Wilson put the ball in the net again but found his effort disallowed for offside after a lengthy review period, then Walcott managed to add to his far too sparse scoring record – but, unfortunately this one was past McCarthy. Soon after, Wilson was to prove to be the ultimate nemesis when he scored after Maitland-Niles found himself contesting a long ball with Willock, and, with little assistance offered by the nearby Bednarek, rather gifted the opportunity to Wilson. Having netted three times, twice legitimately, Wilson still had time to hit the bar twice, amazingly with the same shot. 

Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from: 

1. Alex McCarthy. A long time since a goalkeeper featured in the frame – the last was Caballero. McCarthy made a few decent saves, the best being to stop Newcastle’s left side dominance bearing early fruit in the second half. 

17. Stuart Armstrong. A nice goal and a good contribution – so he was taken off. 

45. Roméo Lavia. Always Lavia. 

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