Liverpool Home Drew 4 – 4
The far from ideal fullback partnership of Bree on the right and Walker-Peters on the left was repeated in the end of an era game against Liverpool, where it was a familiar scary defensive play that was to be Southampton’s early undoing. Having your goalkeeper and centre backs playing the ball amongst each other deep in the danger area makes every fan nervous, but especially when it involves the ball playing skills of McCarthy, Lyanco and Bednarek. A good thing, then, that a proper player like Lavia came back to help? Alas, Lavia could only pass straight to da Silva (Jotto): 0-1. It got worse when de Oliveira (Firmino) bemused Bednarek and Lyanco before shooting between McCarthy’s legs: 0-2. There had been fears that had Liverpool needed a huge win to boost their goal difference, then this was the game to do it, and that was still looking possible, even in this ‘dead rubber’ fixture. Happily, the Southampton whimper when they secured their fate in the last home game was to turn into a defiant bark, beginning with a well crafted goal stroked home by Ward-Prowse, helped by Alcaraz: 1-2. More was to come from the team, with Walcott supplying the pass for the restored Sulemana to score past Kelleher’s McCarthy impression and then celebrate with a back flip: 2-2. You wait three months for a Sulemana goal, and then another one comes along soon after – early in the second half, in fact. And it was worth the wait, with the Ghanaian picking up the ball well inside his own half and then running and running against a scared defence and going on to celebrate with this time a triple back flip: 3-2, and memories of Mick Channon, no less, unleashed for older fans. Walcott and Elyounoussi had let it be known that they would be departing so both were substituted to allow a round of applause, beginning with Elyounoussi. It also turned out to be an inspired move tactically as on came Adam Armstrong to take advantage of Henderson’s error, the finish recalling his first Southampton goal two years ago: 4-2. When desperate defenders cleared from Salah there were genuine hopes of a rare as hens’ teeth home win, but Alexander-Armstrong soon crossed for Gakpo to score from close range and almost immediately da Silva found a huge gap between Saints’ defenders and scored with an emphatic shot: 4-4 all of a sudden. An away win now seemed the most likely result, but somehow the Southampton goal survived and late on a rare substitution of Ward-Prowse told its own story – we all wish him luck in his future endeavours (unless he somehow ends up in his home town); if JW-P is now the past, his debutant replacement, Amo-Ameyaw, had a trick in him to suggest he could have a future. Neither McCarthy nor Kelleher had looked much like stopping anything coming their way, but in added time McCarthy made an excellent save from Salah and Kelleher a good one to stop Walker-Peters: still 4-4 at the end, somehow.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
4. Lyanco Vojnovic, who looks like he enjoys this sort of get-stuck-in game. If he stays, he could do well in the Championship.
8. James Ward-Prowse, as a thanks for the memories.
20. Kameldeen Sulemana. Substituted after 86 minutes, denying him the chance of a hat trick.