London Saints

Sunderland Home Won 4 – 2

The midweek fire and resulting postponement still left Manager Martin with a dilemma as Walker-Peters remained unfit and, despite Bree being available, we went out to face Sunderland with the same defence that conceded three times at Birmingham, with Harwood-Bellis as a fairly orthodox full back. That left us short of overlapping options but going forward didn’t seem much of a problem against bang out of form opponents. Smallbone put Stuart Armstrong clear on eight minutes and a caution for Seelt was the best the Mackems could hope for in the circumstances. What they didn’t bargain for was a wretched defensive header by Bellingham (minor) from the subsequent cross and when Bednarek was denied by Patterson’s point blank save, Stuart Armstrong put the loose ball away. Adam Armstrong should have punished a poor Patterson clearance before Manning was taken out by Rigg – referee Atwood’s hesitancy in pointing to the spot probably explained by disbelief that a defender could be so stupid. It appeared that Adam Armstrong had converted with a decent strike but the visitors found something to complain about; it seems that a poor foothold may just have led to an accidental double strike – but there’s no VAR to refer to in the EFL. Without talismanic striker Clarke plus the self-inflicted lack of Tony Mowbray’s tactical nous, this was a very different Sunderland side to the one that put five past Saints in August, but they did hit the post in the first half, although from an angle where it would have been virtually impossible to score. Things were going along quite nicely from a Southampton perspective until we matched a 56th minute double away substitution with a couple of our own that might have disrupted the balance of the side. Whatever, it was no time before the lead was halved in familiar fashion: a shot (by Mundle) to Bazunu’s left, but this time the keeper was not guilty as a slight deflection off Stephens looked crucial. Sunderland achieved parity soon after – another shot to Bazunu’s left, and again a not guilty verdict as it was a fine strike byBellingham. Immediately there were more Southampton substitutions, these more sensible as on came Bree and Rothwell for Stephens and Stuart Armstrong. At the Stadium of Light, Saints were being picked off despite plenty of possession, but now the roles were reversed as we seemed to be inviting a press in order to play through it for a swift break, and one led to another goal thanks to a fine first-time strike byRothwell after Adam Armstrong’s low cross was blocked away. Then a 4 v. 3 break led to Adam Armstrong’s shot being cleared off the line, but only to Rothwell who again didn’t mess around. The contest was now truly over, but there were few in the home sections not grateful for the security of that two goal cushion.

Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:

4. Flynn Downes. Again showed how important he is to the team.

10. Che Adams. No goals, or even opportunities of note, but we seemed to miss his presence following a late final substitution.

19. Joe Rothwell. Two well taken goals, especially the first, to make the most of limited pitch time.

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