Fulham Home Lost 0 – 2
A start for ‘Tall Paul’ Onuachu against Fulham – well, nothing else seems to be working. For the opening 20 minutes or so, his first touch was embarrassing, but he did contribute what was to be his side’s only shot on target – an unlikely effort from long distance and an acute angle that just about made it as far as Leno. After that, he and the team actually got a bit better, the catalyst for change seeming to be a touch and go penalty call for handball by Lyanco which went the way of the same player who had been penalised for something very similar against Grimsby. Lyanco, though, did keep the Southampton goal intact by heading Willian’s shot off the line just before the interval, so maybe this would be the game where we get the breaks (albeit too late to have any meaningful effect)? Sadly you make your own luck, and this lot aren’t good enough to enjoy much fortune. Alcaraz finished nicely when sent clear by Ward-Prowse but he’d gone too soon and was offside, and almost immediately at the other end, Lyanco looked to be tidying up nicely but was either not strong enough to stop Reed, or he was just plain unlucky – and of course the loose ball just had to fall to Vinícius Morais for an easy goal. The likelihood of Onuachu lasting past the on-the-hour substitutions was remote, so on came Sulemana and Mara – all three of them could benefit from a full 90 minutes, but that doesn’t seem to be part of whatever plan we are working to. Alas the visitors had bad boy Mitrović available for the first time in months, and somewhat inevitably he came on to double their lead with around 20 minutes remaining. Everyone knew that was it for the latest spell of Premier League qualification, and no real surprise that there was no response from the players. These reports have quoted both The Supremes and Bob Dylan this season, but long before hearing MotD’s commentator having the same idea, I was thinking of an English ‘A’ level modern literature syllabus from many, many years ago: ‘This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.’ (T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men, 1925).
After an habitual toilet break at the final whistle, I was drawn back pitch-side by the sound of booing. Yes, the players were attempting a lap of (dis)honour in front of almost empty stands; damned if you do, damned if you don’t I suppose, but they deserved their moment of discomfort.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
4. Lyanco Vojnovic for that goal-line clearance… you decide if he was to blame for the opening goal.
8. James Ward-Prowse, if only because he seems to share our pain.
26. Charly Alcaraz for getting the ball in the net – shame the rules got in the way.