Brighton Hove Albion Away Lost 3 – 1
Maitland-Niles’ current form (most recently out of position at left back, to be fair) meant a return for Bree at Brighton, so instead we had Walker-Peters out of position at left back; no-one to blame for Perraud’s absence, but we don’t make things easy for them, do we? Further forward, there was no sign of Adams at all while Sulemana and Onuachi looked on from the bench; whether that left Aribo playing up front or in midfield is hard to tell from the player’s nondescript performance. The ‘false nine’ approach hasn’t been without its successes and it should have paid dividends when Walcott and Alcaraz combined well but Alcaraz, normally quite reliable in front of goal, shot well wide. A spell of Southampton possession, mostly in their own half, ended when McCarthy passed dangerously to Bednarek who promptly fell over but Mitoma hit the post rather than convert an open goal. Against Southampton’s goalkeepers, opponents would be well advised to make sure they were on target and Ferguson was rewarded for just that when his shot somehow went under McCarthy to give Albion the lead on the half hour. Their advantage was doubled ten minutes later when Mitoma shrugged off Lavia, who he was outpacing anyway, to lead a break that he maximised by crossing nicely for Ferguson to finish first time. A third home goal was looking likely to be the next change to the scoreline, but Southampton defied the run of play by forcing a Ward-Prowse corner that was headed in from close range by Elyounoussi at the near post. All of a sudden we were back in the game and for a while it seemed back to parity too when Walcott ran on to Ward-Prowse’s through pass to finish neatly, but Theo rolling back the years was not to be after VAR found him to be marginally offside. A lot of close calls seem to have gone against Saints, but we can never be sure that the assistants wouldn’t have raised their flags if left to their own devices. No VAR to concern us next year – we’ll see how its detractors get on with that. Ward-Prowse picked up a booking by venting his frustrations to the on-field referee and when Bree joined him on the naughty step, there were yellow cards against five of our players. There were soon three goals against the team as well when McCarthy saved to concede a corner that wasn’t defended well at all, allowing Gross to expose the keeper’s continuing vulnerability with near post shots. A triple substitution removed two of the yellows, but Ballard, on Premier League debut, barely had a touch while most of the touches by fellow sub Stuart Armstrong went out of play. Rubén Sellés’ remaining changes were also significant for two players: Livramento back on the same pitch where he suffered a bad injury a year back, and then Kamari Doyle given a first team debut… and again few, if any, touches of the ball.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
4. Lyanco Vojnovic. If only he had the skill to match his attitude.
8. James Ward-Prowse. Had the Walcott goal stood, he’d have had two assists.
32. Theo Walcott, our most likely goal source from open play.
Found this Banksy on a pub crawl after the match. No homophobic chanting today.