London Saints

Wow Again Birmingham Away Won 3 – 4

With Walker-Peters missing, Stephens came into the league side at Birmingham, although it was never clear which of he and Harwood-Bellis was at centre back and which at full back – or is that just old fashioned thinking? Also missing in the third minute was much covering defence as Myoshi got free and volleyed home off Manning (it may well have been going in anyway), leaving Bednarek appealing for a possible handball – one for the VAR leagues, that one, Jan. Saints were struggling to come to terms with a sticky pitch in a match that began in rain which soon turned to wet snow. A couple of minutes later the team could have been two adrift as Bacuna struck a post and we were lucky that the rebound rolled dead off the prone Bazunu, rather than into the net. Eventually the passing game began to click and it led to an equaliser from Adam Armstrong, assisted by Brooks’ through ball – this time it was the home team rueing the lack of VAR to judge on a possible offside. Most of the game was now being played in front of Blues keeper Ruddy and Adams saw a scuffed shot deflected onto the woodwork. And then, out of nowhere, Birmingham scored again: Bednarek’s misdirected header from a long ball out of defence fell perfectly for Stansfield to run on to, but his finish was impressive. Saints still had time to hit the bar before the half time whistle and, for the second week running, a team talk was based on what should have been. Again it took time to establish control after the restart but it was eventually restored, and when Brooks began to cut inside, everybody seemed to know what was coming, but no-one in blue could do anything about a sublime left foot shot into the corner. It was deserved as anything loose in the box hadn’t been falling as we would have wanted; that all changed just before the hour when Adams found the ball at his feet and a stumble might have helped find space to direct a shot into the corner. Soon after, Saints were going forward again but were denied as referee Bell didn’t apply advantage, but he did dismiss Sanderson for a bad, but probably not malicious, foul on Smallbone. Smallbone looked keen to level the numbers and fortunately was only cautioned for a nasty foul that led to a swift substitution. That brought on Aribo, normally an ideal man for the situation, especially given his form since returning from Africa, but he wasn’t at his best here. There was still action aplenty and on 77 minutes, Laird pulled the ball back for Stansfield to shoot against the post and Bacuna buried the rebound. That wasn’t in the script for the eleven men so we had a series of attacking substitutions in a bid to take home all three points. Nevertheless, we were half way through nine added minutes when Harwood-Bellis got in a towering header from a corner and there was Aribo, first to react and hit the winner – the second time this season that we’ve won a game despite conceding three goals.

Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:

4. Flynn Downes. A welcome return to the action for an important player.

5. Jack Stephens. All-in-all, the defensive unit wasn’t at its best, but Stephens’ battling performance caught the eye.

16. Will Smallbone. An influential playmaker until the red mist started to descend.

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