Nottingham Forest Away Lost 4 – 3
With push rapidly giving way to shove, Sellés decided that on a wet night in Nottingham, Adams was a better choice to lead the attack than the Alcaraz ‘false nine’ experiment. Other than putting the ball anywhere near the net, things weren’t going too far wrong early on as Saints dominated but then Nottingham Forest struck an oh so simple goal: a quick free kick taken long exposed Maitland-Niles, playing out of position at left back, and the pacy Johnson crossed for Awoniyi to score. It wasn’t entirely clever defending, but things soon got worse as none of the back line seemed able to get near a bouncing ball that eventually fell for Awoniyi to grab his second. They may have been staring down the barrel, but Saints hit back with a very good goal, started by Ward-Prowse, continued by Adams, assisted by Stuart Armstrong’s cross and finished by Alcaraz. I’m not sure I’ve seen a centre back go down injured as often as Bella-Kotchap but when he was beaten by Johnson, he pulled up with a season (and Southampton career?) ending hamstring pull. Otherwise, after that burst of scoring at the end of the first quarter, the rest of the opening half was incident free in front of goal until Maitland-Niles attempted a tackle on Johnson that turned out to be a foul for a soft penalty, converted down the middle by Gibbs-White. Again a mountain to climb but a good header from a corner by sub Lyanco Vojnovic got us to base camp and still plenty of time left for the scoring to continue… which it did when Danilo de Olivera restored his team’s two goal cushion with the best of the game’s many goals. At 4-2 down against their closest pre-match rivals in the relegation zone, early exits on the announcement of seven minutes added time were forgivable, and they were about to become a rush for the doors when Forest had the ball in the net for a fifth time; the Southampton defence had other ideas and were set for an offside free kick long before VAR eventually confirmed their view – and it did look clear (except to the referee’s assistant). Down to the other end, then, and Lavia managed to tumble under a forward’s tackle by Surridge. It was even softer than the other penalty, but the decision stood and Ward-Prowse followed Gibbs-White’s technique, with similar success. We ended up with over ten minutes added on but it wasn’t enough to turn 64% possession and 448 completed passes into any points: the story of our season.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
8. James Ward-Prowse, who left the pitch somewhat distraught… as they all ought to be.
26. Charly Alcaraz. If he stays, he may be the only class player left in a Championship squad.
45. Roméo Lavia. Well he’s not going to stay, is he?