IBO Reporter : channonite
|Well, that was a close run thing. The match started with no hint of the drama to come, but both defences looked suspect. In Saints case, Lyanco was definitely the weakest link and he clearly has some more settling in to do.
The Sheffield United strikers were making themselves a real nuisance, particularly the annoyingly unpleasant McBurnie and seemed to be able to pass at will around the Saints defenders. The breakthrough came in the 8th minute when the completely unmarked ex-Portsmouth defender, Stevens, was able to side foot home to make it 1-0.
Not an impressive start for the Premier League side. Not long after there was another warning, when the ball just seemed to trickle across the face of Forster's goal, but fortunately there wasn't a Sheffield United player nearby to push it over the line.
Fortunately Saints seemed to gradually take control, in part thanks to the midfield duo of Romeu and Diallo and it was the latter who equalised in the 23rd minute, scoring his first goal for the club. Romeu sent a wonderfully weighted pass in to Diallo, deep in the area and in one flowing movement the French player had the ball in the Sheffield United net. 1-1.
All the good work was almost undone then, when Lyanco and Salisu combined to practically gift wrap a chance for Ndiaye, but the Utd player thankfully shot wide.
The rest of the half was frankly entirely forgettable and we went into the break, still at 1-1.
As the players came out for the second half, it became apparent that Ralph had decided to replace the ineffective Redmond with James Ward-Prowse.
Saints then had the ball in the net again, from Broja, although it was clearly offside and there were no complaints.
The change of formation following the introduction of JWP was beginning to have the desired effect, when Diallo had a goal-bound shot deflected for a corner, following some great approach work down the left from Ward-Prowse and Djenepo.
Very soon after, JWP popped up on the right and played it forward to Tella. The youngster sent a great teasing pass into the area and there was Salisu to get his first goal for the club and Saints second of the day. 1-2 to Saints.
The lead was not destined to last for long, as Lyanco then dropped a defensive clanger allowing the obnoxious McBurnie a simple chance to score, which he was never going to pass up. All square again at 2-2.
Ralph responded to this pretty much straight away taking off Lyanco and sending on Bednarek. Shortly after that he also replaced the tiring Tella with Ché Adams. The Saints No.10 almost had the ball in the net within seconds when he denied by an instinctive reaction save from the Utd keeper. Perraud had sent in a perfect cross from the left wing and Ché rose to hit it on the volley, but Foderingham appeared from nowhere to deny him.
Then Broja was racing down the right wing, with Adams indicating where he wanted the ball. The Albanian placed it exactly where he was told, but Ché missed it by centimetres.
Time ran out and it was heading for the dreaded penalties. Whatever the outcome Saints should have won this in normal time.
- First up was James Ward-Prowse who comfortable scored his penalty. 0-1.
- Norwood scored for Utd to make it 1-1
- Adams scored for Saints, 1-2
- Brewster's staccato run ended with Forster saving. Still 1-2
- Broja has his shot saved. Still 1-2
- Osborn scores. 2-2
- Diallo scores. 2-3 to Saints
- McBurnie shoots. Forster saves. HaHa! Still 2-3 and Saints just have to score once more.
- Romeu steps up sends the keeper the wrong way and it is 2-4.
All over and Saints are through to the next round.
Man of the Match
Several candidates, with Diallo's performance a standout, but for his two saves in the penalty shootout, I am giving it to Fraser Forster. Outstanding work sir.