Rotherham Home Drew 1 – 1
After two pretty decent wins, there was always the thought that it would be just like Saints to slip up against lowly Rotherham. The likely scenario was that the longer the game remained goal-less, the more difficult it would become, but that very soon ceased to be a concern: after a couple of early crosses promised much but failed with poor execution, the ball was recycled to Walker-Peters who did much better and delivered an inviting chance for the restored Adams – his header could only hit the post but Stuart Armstrong was able to tap in the rebound. Southampton continued to threaten down the flanks, so much so that the trailing visitors made a defensive substitution after half an hour, moving to a back five. Rotherham at home presents a very different challenge to Leeds or that tricky away trip to Stoke, and any thought of counter-punching was ruled out by the Millers’ tactics; we were going to have to pass them to death. The second half was delayed by ten minutes due to a medical emergency and then Saints enjoyed a lengthy spell of possession so it was approaching 4:20 by the time Rotherham touched the ball when attacking the Chapel end. After keeper Johansson saved from Smallbone, Manager Martin’s problem was getting Russball to create worthwhile chances and the knee-jerk reaction was a triple substitution on the hour mark. Introducing fresh legs was sensible, but this shot at securing the win was into the foot when we took off our leading scorer, the scorer of our last two goals and, in Sulemana, the player most likely to get round the back. Ten minutes later, visiting boss Matt Taylor made his own triple change in a 60 second period where Saints threw two points away: Johansson, as was his wont, used up about 16 of his allocated 6 seconds before throwing the ball into touch; off went three uninjured players, and on came three new ones; Adams obligingly gave the ball back from the throw in, not even over the deadball line but into Johansson’s arms; within seconds it was in the Southampton net. There wasn’t too much wrong with Harwood-Bellis’ headed clearance from the keeper’s punt, but it could have been better, there wasn’t much wrong with Bazunu’s positioning, but it could have been better… the problem was that Hugill’s return goalwards from 20-odd yards out was perfect and in it went, just under the bar. Other than passing more quickly, Barcelona-style (probably beyond us!) there wasn’t much Saints could do under Russball, other than make more subs, again doing nothing to strengthen the side – to be fair, these guys were on the bench because they’re not as good as the starters. So two steps forward followed by one backwards, just before the international break.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
9. Adam Armstrong, with a first half ‘goal’ disallowed for offside.
17. Stuart Armstrong, with another goal.
20. Kamaldeen Sulemana, always a threat.
Notice anything about that selection?