Swansea Home Won 5 – 0
Maybe Russell Martin thought that Swansea, his former charges, knew too much about Russball, or maybe he knew something about their weaknesses; either way, we had a radical move to three-at-the-back when the sides met at St. Mary’s, with a return to starting action for Stephens and Walker-Peters and Manning deployed much further forward than usual. The danger there is that the wing backs get in the way of the attacking wingers, but Manning certainly didn’t stop Edozie having his most effective game for Southampton so far, including a run to the by-line that bought a 17th minute goal for Aribo, his first of the season, celebrated by Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ over the loudspeakers – how long have they been waiting for that? Edozie’s cross didn’t earn him an assist as the ball didn’t find its way directly to Aribo – and neither did the shot find the net directly, but clearly Joe’s goal. The Swans had two early snap shot chances that might have sent the game in a very different direction but they were being outplayed by the break. Often that means a difficult start to the second period for the Saints, but this time they pressed on, literally pressing Swansea into conceding again. It came when goalkeeper Rushworth lost control as his team attempted to play around at the back; the ball seemed to be falling for Edozie but not near enough for a simple tap in, so an improvised back-heel sent it goalwards and just about over the line as Cabango tried to clear. I may have been wrong in attributing Manager Martin’s 55th minute substitutions in the previous game to concern at the state of play as he repeated the trick here, bringing on Smallbone and Alcaraz – maybe 55 is the new 60? Edozie is usually one to be pulled, but he’d earned a stay of execution until 70 minutes when he and Stephens were replaced by Fraser and Adams. Fraser is the impact man, of course, and within a few minutes he swept in a fine 20 yard shot after Aribo had pressed in midfield and Adam Armstrong provided the pass. Swansea looked more than ready for the coach home, but Fraser was far from finished. He scored again on 87 minutes, another good shot but from much closer in and after a multi pass move and assisted by another sub, Mara, on the right. The agony continued for the Welsh into added time when Fraser dinked over a cross that took Rushworth and a covering defender out of the game, allowing Adams time to chest the ball down and deliver it into the roof of the net from within the six yard box. Best Christmas ever? Best Boxing Day since a 5-0 win in 1964, anyway.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
7. Joe Aribo, now having earned himself a position as a regular starter.
23. Sammy Edozie who always had the beating of his opponent, Humphries. As it turned out, so did Fraser!
26. Ryan Fraser. Can you really be man of the match with less than 30 minutes pitch time when the game was already won? But two goals and an assist can’t be ignored either.