London Saints

Norwich Home Drew 4 – 4

Eleven changes from the midweek team as Saints prepared to face Norwich, or, with greater relevance, one change to the starting selection at Sheffield – we’re in the post Ward-Prowse era, remember? It didn’t take long to fall behind to an all too simple goal that was to epitomise the afternoon’s events: full back Stacey was allowed to get forward and dink the ball over for Sargeant to head in – a top goalkeeper might have cut out the cross, but we don’t possess such a thing. Southampton responded as expected, with plenty of possession, but they were looking dangerous with it, although the equaliser was from a set piece: Stephens’ header forced a good save from Gunn but Bednarek was on hand to lash home the loose ball. The lead soon followed, again from a cross, this one obligingly handled by centre back Duffy: our last penalty is still in orbit somewhere over Turkey (check it out on YouTube) and pre-season veterans will also recall Adam Armstrong missing in Klagenfurt, but Adam did OK this time, despite Gunn guessing right. Within seconds the lead had gone, thanks to the best goal of the match from Sara and some ordinary defending right from the kick off – I’m not sure we even touched the ball. Four goals in the opening quarter but we had to wait until first half added time for the next, and again it was down to poor home defending: Edozie conceded an unnecessary free kick and neither he nor Manning were alert to it being taken quickly so an unnecessary corner also ensued, and unmarked Rowe was allowed to score with a looping header into the top corner. Edozie went off early in the second half in what appeared to be a pre-planned move as Adams was ready and waiting. That changed the shape of the attack and Adams was rewarded with a goal when he took control of broken play on the edge of the box and finished nicely. Despite Norwich having a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside when Bazunu could only parry a free kick into the path of onrushing forwards, Southampton looked capable of getting a winner, especially when forcing a series of corners that caused untold problems. Then, on 84 minutes, Smallbone went down injured and, as Saints prevaricated over a substitution, Manning made a hash of intercepting a cross and presented Fassnacht with a chance which he accepted. With the error prone Bednarek having to be rescued by a combination of Bazunu and Walker-Peters, it wasn’t a great day for the Saints back line and it looked as though they would cost all three points until the sixth of an original added eight minutes, when an ill-judged challenge from behind by Giannoulis on Walker-Peters conceded the second penalty of the game: Adam Armstrong went the same way, Gunn didn’t, and that was that. Both teams will find plenty of positives to carry forward, and plenty of regrets too. A second successive eight goal thriller for the St. Mary’s customers to enjoy, after Liverpool’s visit on 28th May – not surprising as both keepers in this game are used to picking the ball out of the net here. 

Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from: 

2. Kyle Walker-Peters. First reaction was to rule out any defenders, but, on reflection, he made a significant contribution. 

16. Will Smallbone, who is hugely important to us – fingers crossed his injury is not serious. 

22. Charly Alcaraz, who shot narrowly wide on several occasions. 

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