Watford Away FA Cup 4th Round Drew 1 – 1
It’s somehow reassuring to observe the passion everybody’s fan base has for the F.A. Cup despite all that both clubs and administrators seem to be doing to dampen it. Russell Martin made nine changes for a Southampton team sent out to face Watford in an awkward (and unexpected) Sunday lunchtime start, while the home team managed six of their own. What’s more, there were plans to have the 5th round draw take place around kick-off time and in a way it’s nice that the draw had to be put back through the activities (however unwelcome) of fans who had actually taken the trouble to turn up to a live game. It only meant a postponement until the second half was well underway at Watford for us to learn of a possible trip to Anfield, although by then Saints were trailing, and had been behind for a long time. This was after Lumley decided on a one-man wall to face Martins‘ free kick and compounded the error by going down like a sack of coal in a failed attempt to avoid being beaten at the near post. The goalkeeper was also in trouble when he dashed of his line in a failed attempt to stop Bayo and had to be rescued by his colleagues when stranded yards away from goal. There wasn’t much going for Saints at the other end either, although, as usual, there was enough possession to suggest that the team had an equaliser in them somewhere. Of course they also had to stop the Hornets going further ahead, as was possible in a lively opening to the second half by both teams. Play began to favour Saints after a four-fold substitution on 63 minutes that saw both Armstrongs, Fraser and Smallbone on while Dibling, on starting debut, was amongst those withdrawn – the player found it more difficult in a competitive game away from home compared with tormenting tired defenders who’d found themselves several goals behind at St. Mary’s. The next near thing, though, could have settled the tie in Watford’s favour when Martins beat Lumley again, this time with a deflected shot that hit the post. Stuart Armstrong was by now the most effective player on the pitch but time to stop the cup run and the unbeaten record coming to an end was running short. Then Stuart Armstrong on the left found both defenders and goalkeepers expecting a cross that was instead a clean shot just inside the unguarded near post. A nice change to have a late goal of our own at Vicarage Road, but how much effort will be put into the replay remains to be seen.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
5. Jack Stephens as possibly our best defender. His colleague, TH-B, seemed to find himself drawn into midfield a lot.
6. Mason Holgate, another candidate as best defender and also managed an attacking threat.
17. Stuart Armstrong. I make it a maximum 32 minutes pitch time, but made the most use of it.