Football Features

“A true captain for this club” – James Ward-Prowse scores a stunner as 10-man Southampton hold Spurs 1-1

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:27, 28 December 2021

James Ward-Prowse put in a fantastic display to help 10-man Southampton draw 1-1 with Spurs.

Saints came into the game in 14th place, nine points behind Spurs in fifth, yet before Mohamed Salisu’s red card, they were the better side. And even once Spurs had the man advantage, Southampton put in a battling display to get a draw.

Key to all of that, of course, was James Ward-Prowse’s performance at the heart of midfield. The Southampton captain never stopped fighting for his side, never stopped running, passing, and of course: scoring.

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Ward-Prowse opened the scoring on the night with a stunning strike… from open play! The set-piece wizard was on hand when Dele Alli’s weak clearance from a long-throw into the box.

With the ball falling down, Ward-Prowse surged into the box and shaped to strike it. Spurs defenders converged on him but Ward-Prowse stayed cool and struck the ball so sweetly, cutting across it and sending it curving away from all the Spurs defenders and the despairing dive of Hugo Lloris into the back of the net.

It was a sublime strike, and quite incredibly his third goal in his last three games, with each goal helping Saints pick up points. After losing 3-0 to Arsenal the Saints drew with Palace, beat West Ham and now drew with Spurs. That’s five huge points as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men try to climb away from the relegation places.

Ward-Prowse’s importance to Southampton extends even beyond his abilities as a player. “He’s a leader on and off the pitch. He sets that example by playing the way that he does, the professionalism that he has,” said Francis Benali in post-match coverage.

Ward-Prowse’s leadership was even seen in his post-match interview. The Saints captain was asked about Mohamed Salisu’s red card, and his response was fabulous, refusing to blame or even criticise his team-mate.

“He’s obviously made an error. But we’ve all been there, we’ve all made that mistake before. We had to dig in deep; it wasn’t totally his fault, we had to make sure we stuck in there and got ourselves something out of the game which we did.”

On his goal, Ward-Prowse said: “I don’t get many that fall to me on the edge of the box like that. So, it was a great opportunity to have a shot and try my luck and thankfully it went in.”

Ward-Prowse downplaying the brilliance of his goal was typically understated. His stature was echoed by Ralph Hasenhuttl who praised his captain’s physical resiliance: “he played on Sunday he plays today again 90 minutes in such an intense game with one man down. He is never getting tired he is always there and you can trust him in any moment. A true captain for this club.”

A sterling example of leadership on and off the field, James Ward-Prowse’s dominance is lifting Southampton up the Premier League table.