Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s decision to mix youth and experience paid off after his side secured their place in the FA Cup fourth round with a 2-0 win over Shrewsbury in their rearranged tie following Covid-19 issues.
Dan N’Lundulu netted on his first start for Southampton in the 17th minute before James Ward-Prowse sealed the win with a clever curled free-kick, setting up a clash with Arsenal in the next round.
The Shrews were without manager Steve Cotterill who had to watch the game from his hospital bed as he continues his recovery from Covid-19. The 56-year-old was admitted to hospital after his symptoms took a turn for the worse and has spent time in intensive care.
The game, originally scheduled for January 9, was postponed following a coronavirus outbreak at the Shropshire club, which saw their training ground closed for 10 days and their last match was a win over Blackpool on December 29.
The game started slowly as Ibrahima Diallo drove wide with the first sight of goal for either side.
Southampton took the lead in the 17th minute with the first real chance of the game, N’Lundulu slotting the ball into the far corner for his first goal for the club.
The goal was allowed to stand after a VAR check for handball against Caleb Watts as he controlled a long ball. Shrewsbury were unable to clear and the ball fell to N’Lundulu who put it through the legs of Scott Golbourne before it found the net.
In the second half, the visitors looked to hit back through Harry Chapman, who drove down the right and into the penalty area but his strike went wide of the target.
Shrewsbury defender Aaron Pierre had to hook the ball off the line to keep his team in the tie after a ball from Jake Vokins, who scored in the win over Huddersfield at the same stage of last season’s competition, found Watts, whose shot was parried by the goalkeeper onto the defender and almost into the net.
Just before the full-time whistle, Ward-Prowse put the game beyond doubt when he stepped up to take a free-kick just outside the area and expertly curled the ball over the wall, with Sarkic unable to keep it out.