Plymouth Home Won 2 – 1
Even in the TV age, 6 p.m. on a Friday evening is an odd time for a kick off. For most of the day leading up to Plymouth at home it felt like a Saturday, only it wasn’t. Then, as 3 o’clock passed, it felt like a 7:45 game, only it wasn’t. At least the nation’s political leader worked out the logistics and was present to see his beloved Saints march on, only with a changed line up that included replacing or moving the entire midfield – the rotation policy for the latest holiday game caused comment about whether modern players are really as precious as modern coaches make them out to be. As it happened, the side, now including Charles, Smallbone and Alcaraz, produced some of their most pleasing moves of the season and there was enough incident in the first 20 minutes alone to occupy an entire report normally, so just quick mentions for Adams’ ‘goal’ correctly disallowed for offside, Adam Armstrong’s lob from within the centre circle that went just over and Harwood-Bellis’ near post header from a corner that came back off the far post. With possession stats at 78% in Southampton’s favour even at the end, surely a goal was going to come soon? But come it did not and the sides turned round all square. What’s more, Plymouth thought they’d scored ten minutes into the second half but the assistant’s flag was raised when Mumba headed in Whittaker’s cross unchallenged, and in the Championship that’s the end of the story – just as well as it turns out Mumba wasn’t offside at all. Within a minute things got far worse for the Pilgrims as Alcaraz made the most of a situation set up by Edozie as he fired the opener into the top corner from 20 yards. Before Manager Martin had time to turn to his bench it was 2-0, thanks to Adams timing his run onto Harwood-Bellis’ through ball and using his strength and not a little skill to score his second goal against this opposition this season. On came the subs: first Stuart Armstrong, Aribo and Fraser, followed by Mara and finally Stephens. Still Saints strode forward with purpose but they continued to be foiled by goalkeeper Hazard or the width of the goal, but in truth it was becoming a bit sloppy as a easy win got closer. Then at the beginning of six added minutes, what we knew would happen at some point in the season came to pass: Bazunu caught in possession and distraught as the ball bounced off Hardie into an empty net. Almost from the kick off Bazunu passed to Bednarek who wasn’t paying attention but a farcical ending was avoided. It remained dodgy to the whistle, though, thanks to the normally reliable Fraser missing a one-on-one chance.
LSSC Man of the Match – three players for you to choose from.
21. Taylor Harwood-Bellis with an assist, a header against the post and another impressive defensive performance (if not tested much in that department).
22. Charly Alcaraz with an excellent goal, but also an idiotic self-inflicted caution.
23. Sammy Edozie, now showing that Fraser isn’t the only winger who can thrive under Russball.