Huddersfield Away Drew 1 – 1
Manager Martin decided that it was too much to ask Alcaraz to fly across the Atlantic midweek and play at Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon so Fraser got a start, while Bednarek just had to return in defence. It was always going to be a fixture where Saints would try to pass their opponents to kingdom come, and the home team seemed to accept that as well. I haven’t found stats for the first half alone, but while they must be overwhelmingly in our favour in terms of possession (we ended up with 78% anyway), that didn’t stop Huddersfield having their moments from the simpler ploy of just getting the ball forward – indeed all our defenders were forced into last ditch tackles to keep their goal intact. At the other end there were signs that Saints would eventually break through before Stuart Armstrong’s 39th minute shot that came back off the post – maybe we could have done with a bit more shooting in lieu of passing? Then, in added time, a goal did come, created by Stuart Armstrong and neatly finished by Adam Armstrong. With a game to chase, the Terriers’ approach had to be more proactive after the break and they made Southampton look very uncomfortable in their attempts to play out from the back. It was still eleven v. eleven so there should have been spaces to exploit further forward, but Saints struggled to get the ball up to them and when Sulemana was drawn back to defend, he was caught in possession and was booked for his efforts to recover – it may have been the caution or just that piece of sloppy play that led to his replacement by Edozie ten minutes into the half; Edozie was involved far more than his predecessor, forcing a full-length save from Maxwell as well as frustrating from promising positions. Things were still not going well, however, with the ball given away far too often, usually by Smallbone or Walker-Peters who were both well off their best game. It stayed at 0-1, and a triple substitution that involved Charles should have helped, even if an extra forward in Stewart, did not. There’s no legislating for fate, though, and when Jackson‘s intended cross on 87 minutes found its way into the net, Town’s frustrations were over and Saints were looking at two points dropped, and by now without Fraser to retrieve them late on, as he so often has. In truth, things could have gone rapidly downhill as right from our resulting kick off Bazunu had to come nearly up to halfway and just about managed to hack clear – the recent run of good fortune hasn’t entirely gone away yet.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
4. Flynn Downes. It’s hard to recall any poor passes or missed tackles from him, and that can’t be said of any of his colleagues.
9. Adam Armstrong. A nicely taken goal, and the usual 100% effort.
17. Stuart Armstrong. Probably our best player of the first half, and still a surprise when he made way late on.