Walsall FA Cup 3rd Round Home Won 4 – 0
As the world’s oldest football competition, the FA Cup has many traditions, one of the most recent being that clubs entering at the third round should field weakened teams. So it was for Southampton against Walsall, where we had the long awaited debut of ‘Joanna’ Lumley along with a first home start for Meghoma and rare starting roles for Holgate, Amo-Ameyaw and Mara. Other more familiar faces were back too, including Ryan Fraser who gave notice of intent with an early run for a cross that threatened a fragile looking visiting defence. Fraser often seemed to be frustrated by his colleagues not delivering a killer pass to a player who was clearly ‘hot,’ but he got what he wanted in the 6th minute when he ran on to Harwood-Bellis’ long pass to put Saints ahead. Had there been other players with experience or even not quite mature footballing nous about them out there, we’d have had more first half goals than just the one. Lumley’s orthodox goalkeeping prowess wasn’t being tested but he was demonstrating even more dribbling audacity that we’re used to seeing from Bazunu. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of all the team: almost immediately after the restart Stephens presented Walsall with a way back through a misplaced pass, and when that chance wasn’t taken, Smallbone was caught in possession only for Earing to squander an even easier opportunity with a panicky shot. Just when supporters were looking to the bench to eliminate basic errors, that man Fraser was back, this time with an assist – a low cross to Mara that still required plenty of skill to convert into a goal. At 2-0, the first change wasn’t entirely as expected, with a forward (Adams) replacing a defender (Harwood-Bellis) as Charles went to full back. Just to make sure of the win, Fraser was in scoring action again with a cross shot into the bottom corner before Adams had the strength and enthusiasm to force in the fourth on 78 minutes – so still time for Ryan Dibling to come on for a home debut and also to give Cameron Bragg a first taste of first team action.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
13. Joe Lumley. A clean sheet on debut.
26. Ryan Fraser. I shouldn’t be influencing the voting, but, heck, he was the Man of the Match, wasn’t he?
29. Jayden Meghoma. Also for a clean sheet, this one on home debut.