Bristol City Home Won 1 – 0
After a less than satisfactory performance at Huddersfield, there were changes to the Saints line-up to face Bristol City: out went Bree (somewhat surprisingly), Smallbone and Fraser, in came Manning, Charles and Alcaraz. On a cold night it wasn’t long before fans started wondering if there wasn’t something better on TV: Channel 4 News perhaps? Soon even GB News seemed attractive. After 35 minutes Sulemana limped off with what looked like a torn hamstring; out of the game, and possibly out of our lives, with the prospect of a lengthy lay off and a coming transfer window opportunity, given his difficulties with Russball. Substitute Adams changed the shape of the home attack that was going nowhere (except sideways) but it was the visitors who threatened in the period leading up to half time. A raid down the right ended with a cross met by Sykes at the far post for a header that was less than perfect, but seemingly destined for the net until a miraculous save by Bazunu. Then City sprang the offside trap for Conway to go clear, but this time a less than perfect touch gave Bazunu the chance to dash forward and save at the player’s feet. After the break Adams’ role changed to be more on the left as Alcaraz returned to ‘false nine’ duties, but Southampton scored before any of this could sink in: those who remembered Walker-Peters‘ goal at Preston knew what to expect as KW-P cut inside and his left foot finish was every bit as good as the one at Deepdale. Saints went on to force several saves from O’Leary, but they never managed the sort of connection to make the stops any more than routine. Bazunu in the second half was largely untroubled but Saints had their moments of difficulty, with City twice threatening with breakaways. The first was foiled by Downes racing back to cover, and then Manning did well to stop Mehmeti getting into the danger area, despite being on his wrong foot, having just taken a right side corner. Manning was injured in the process, but substitute Bree and his mates saw out four minutes added time that turned out to be more like seven.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
2. Kyle Walker-Peters, mainly for the goal.
4. Flynn Downes, turning out to be Mr. Reliable.
31. Gavin Bazunu, making a positive difference at last (and not as a result of an upfield excursion).