Wow Huddersfield Town Home Won 5 – 3
Sulemana was fit enough to join Edozie on the Southampton bench against Huddersfield, the sort of bench most can only dream of at this level. It was to be expected that the starting XI would get the job done anyway but our opponents took the game to their hosts while, led by goalkeeper Nicholls, they showed that they are skilled in the black art of game-time management as well. Match stats show that Town had only 29% possession, a figure I doubt as they also seem to have used it to have 17 shots and force six corners, both very high numbers these days. One shot, from Thomas on 36 minutes, gave them the lead when it crept under Bazunu as he dived to the left; an old failing that we’d begun to forget about as he’s been so well protected of late. Against all odds, but also to no great surprise on the day, Town went on to double the lead before first half added time through Kasumu who shot powerfully into the roof of the net. That added time lasted six minutes, partly as an indication that referee Webb was aware of what was going on, but also to allow for treatment to and then the substitution of Downes. He was replaced by Rothwell which changed the regular shape of a settled side and maybe explains all those Huddersfield shots, but we soon had reason to thank Rothwell. The second period was only four minutes old when Nicholls must have been pleased with the way he punched clear a corner, only to be as amazed as the rest of us when Rothwell volleyed it back into the top corner in a spectacular strike. And we were still barely five minutes into the half before Rothwell struck again thanks to work on the Bournemouth training ground as Rothwell combined with interval sub Brooks, and provided another good finish. Town might have laid down had Adam Armstrong buried his shot when sent clear, instead of hitting it tamely at Nicholls, so stopping the opposition shooting remained a problem. On 65 minutes Smallbone wasn’t close enough to prevent Matos going for goal but he did get in half a block that sent the ball looping over Bazunu to make it 2-3, so on came the cavalry in the shape of Sulemana, Edozie and Mara. Rothwell was still there to rescue Saints because it was his cross that was turned in by a Lees own goal and we were all square again. I was hoping for much from Brooks but while he didn’t have a great game, what he did do was certainly effective. With ten minutes scheduled time remaining he pulled a cross back for Mara and whilst it was a bit too far behind him, the forward was able to adjust and fire his side ahead for the first time. Then Brooks made a nuisance of himself to create confusion in the six yard box and with Mara doing well amongst it all, the ball fell to Edozie whose sidestep took out two opponents before he added the fifth. This was just as the board was showing no less than thirteen additional minutes, mostly caused by Huddersfield themselves, but their spirit had finally been broken and our gallant, and time-conscious, opponents had to travel home with nothing.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
3. Ryan Manning. Covered a lot for out-of-sorts defensive colleagues and showed his commitment with a caution for penalty simulation when pushing forward!
19. Joe Rothwell. SFC’s MotM, and the goals were certainly excellent.
36. David Brooks, with two-and-a-half assists, if you can have such a thing.