Match Reports

Frustration as Albion are held by Southampton

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Graham Potter's side pegged back by Saints after leading 2-0.

By Bruce Talbot • 24 April 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion celebrate going in front against Southampton.

There was more Amex frustration for Albion who were held to a draw by Southampton after leading 2-0 in the first half.

Danny Welbeck scored Albion’s fastest goal of the season after 76 seconds and Mohammed Salisu’s own goal doubled their advantage.

But Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse showed his set-piece prowess again when he reduced the deficit in first-half stoppage time with a free kick.

And Ward-Prowse rewarded Southampton for their strong start to the second half with a 54th-minute equaliser.

Albion rallied in the closing stages of an entertaining tussle and substitute Pascal Gross had a goal disallowed by the VAR for offside but the Seagulls now haven’t won at home since Boxing Day, although the point lifted them to 11th place.

Graham Potter’s line-up showed three changes with Adam Webster, who was making his first start since February 15, Leo Trossard and Neal Maupay coming in for Tariq Lamptey, Pascal Gross and Solly March. Shane Duffy returned to the squad after injury.

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck turns to celebrate with his teammates after his second minute goal.

Albion got off to the perfect start when they took the lead with their first Amex goal since Adam Webster’s equaliser against Chelsea on January 18.

Marc Cucurella’s low cross took a slight deflection and when goalkeeper Fraser Forster and defender Mohammed Salisu got in a tangle, Welbeck pounced to prod the loose ball into the net from a couple of yards out for his fourth of the season. It was only the third time this season that Albion had netted in the first 15 minutes as well as being their quickest of the campaign.

Southampton responded well and Valentino Livramento nearly equalised in the 13th minute when his drive struck the far post and bounced out via a deflection off Rob Sanchez, but Che Adams couldn’t stretch far enough to volley the ball over the line.

Forster saved well from Welbeck, who had been set up by Enock Mwepu ten yards out, then Neal Maupay was offside when he nodded in after Lewis Dunk won the initial header from a corner.

It had been a breathless first 25 minutes and Albion continued to relish the space to play while Southampton threatened on the counter. Kyle Walker-Peters produced a perfectly timed tackle to dispossess Mwepu when he lined up a close-range shot before Southampton were forced into a change when Livramento went down after he tried to dispossess Mwepu and had to be stretchered off with his leg in a brace.

Welbeck was inches away from a second goal in the 43rd minute. Trossard got past Oriel Romeu on the left and his low ball was stabbed goalwards by Welbeck. Forster made an instinctive save and when Maupay tried to bundle the ball over the line he was penalised for a foul.

By Paul Hazlewood
The striker smiles as Mohammed Salisu snatches the glory, as Albion go 2-0 up.

No matter. The pair combined again moments later and it was 2-0. Welbeck picked out the Belgian in space on the left and he delivered a diagonal return pass which Mohammed Salisu tried to cut out but ended up clipping past the helpless Forster.

But in first-half stoppage time Southampton hit back. Cucurella was booked for a foul on Nathan Tella on the edge of the D and Ward-Prowse bent the free kick with his right foot past Sanchez and in off the post.

The goal gave Southampton a big lift. They took control of midfield at the start of the second half and equalised in the 54th minute. Nathan Tella won the ball back, Oriol Romeu backheeled it into the path of Ward-Prowse 20 yards out and he bent a superb right-foot shot inside the left-hand post with Sanchez helpless again.

Sanchez acrobatically held onto Long’s shot at full stretch and Potter made a double change with Webster and Mwepu replaced by Solly March and Pascal Gross to try and provide a foothold in a game Southampton were now controlling.

Forster wasn’t required to make a save in the second half until the 70th minute when he held March’s low drive but gradually the home side began to build some momentum again and Gross thought he’d put the hosts back in front with his fizzing low drive into the bottom corner only for a VAR check to rule that he was inches offside.

Both sides tired late on which was no surprise given their efforts and a draw was probably a fair result.

Albion: Sanchez, Welbeck, Webster, Dunk, Cucurella, Caicedo, Mwepu, Mac Allister, Trossard, Maupay (Sarmiento 85), Welbeck.

Subs not used: Steele, Lallana, Alzate, Duffy, Offiah, Ferguson.

Attendance: 31,335