Southampton beat a brave Shrewsbury Town side to book their place in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round.
In the game originally scheduled to take place on 9th January – which was delayed due to a COVID outbreak in the Shrewsbury team – Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made seven changes to the side which lost 2-0 in a tough game away to Leicester, including full debuts for Dan N’Lundulu, Caleb Watts and Kgaogelo Chalke. Shrewsbury manager Steve Cotterill, who is recovering from COVID-19 after a short spell in intensive care, was temporarily replaced in the dugout by assistant Aaron Wilbraham.
Southampton naturally were the stronger of the two sides, right from the start as they often are, with early strikes from 20-year-old full-back Jake Vokins and young Frenchman Ibrahima Diallo piling the pressure on the visiting side’s defence.
N’Lundulu, on his first start for the Saints, opened his account with a scuffled finish into the bottom corner on 16 minutes.
The visitors withstood the pressure from Southampton, and Wilbraham and Cotterill will be proud of the performance of Shrewsbury; getting to half-time at 1-0 down gave them hope of coming back into the game in the second half.
However, it wasn’t to be: James Ward-Prowse, in familiar fashion, stepped up to score a brilliant free-kick – something Saints fans, and neutrals too, have become accustomed to – not least this season.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl ensured there was a good blend of experience and youth in the Saints side – other debutants included 19-year-old Alexandre Jankewitz and 17-year-old Ryan Finnigan – who only signed a professional contract last month.
They face a tougher test at the weekend when they take on Mikel Arteta’s in-form Arsenal – also at St Mary’s – in the next round of the competition.
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 2-0 Shrewsbury Town (N’Lundulu 16′, Ward-Prowse 89′).
Southampton: Forster, Valery, Bednarek, Stephens, Vokins, Chauke (booked) (Armstrong 79′), Ward-Prowse, Diallo (Finnigan 90’+2′), Watts (Jankewitz 85′), Long (Adams 79′), N’Lundulu. Unused Subs: Walker-Peters, Bertrand, Lewis, Ferry, Tchaptchet.
Shrewsbury Town: Sarkic, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre, Pennington (Cummings 85′), Williams, Norburn (Edwards 74′), Vela, Golbourne (Sears 73′), Chapman (Tracey 63′), Whalley, Udoh (Pyke 73′). Unused Subs: Burgoyne, Goss, Clarke, Daniels.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Dan N’Lundulu (Southampton).
Referee: Graham Scott.