London Saints

Preston North End Home Won 3 – 0

Pre-match team news had Manning, Bednarek and Stuart Armstrong back for Bree, Stephens and Smallbone against Preston, but fans turning up to the ground also learned that Bazunu had managed to injure himself warming up and was replaced, not by Lumley, who remained on the bench, but by McCarthy. As a result we had to wait nearly 15 minutes before there was even a hint of ‘mucking about at the back’ and maybe the change of keeper threw the visitors’ plans as much as Southampton’s as PNE didn’t seem to know what to do to get the ball. On 19 minutes it was in the Northam net, put there by Adams following good, but simple, work by Adam Armstrong on the left. Ten minutes later Adams was on the scoresheet again with another close range finish, with poor covering now a feature of Preston’s defence – although this was a particularly slick goal from the home perspective. The contest was effectively over when Stuart Armstrong this time was presented with the ball and given room to shoot; he did so effectively, beating Woodman with ease. Even that might not have been the end of it as Stuart Armstrong then shot against the inside of the post and saw the ball run along the front of the goal before going over the by-line. Adam Armstrong and Adams tried their luck with long distance lobs that both had Woodman beaten before just clearing the bar, while McCarthy was able to sit back and enjoy the spectacle with the rest of us. No more goals in the second half, which is rare as the usual Southampton response to a healthy lead is to threaten to blow it. As it happened, Preston never looked capable of getting anywhere near goal although McCarthy dribbling around his area did give them one sniff – well, he had to do something to keep himself occupied, while Woodman had plenty to do, including an outstanding save from Brooks. A highly satisfactory evening, featuring a 45 minute spell that was as good as anything we’ve seen this season, and impressive overall stats allowing Preston 22% possession and one shot. It also has to be said that there were few long faces at the news of Mara’s suspension and then the announcement that Bazunu may miss the rest of the campaign.

Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:

9. Adam Armstrong, always a danger at this level.

10. Che Adams with two well taken goals… plus he wasn’t replaced by Mara this time!

17. Stuart Armstrong, who seemed to have put Saturday’s abject performance behind him.

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