Halle orchestrates the self-inflicted damage

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The Independent Online

Seven matches into the season and the Premiership table is looking uncomfortably familiar from where Bradford are currently lodged. A point for Derby and three for West Ham leaves them in 20th place. A change of manager and a flurry of activity in the transfer market appears to have left their survival prospects unimproved.

Seven matches into the season and the Premiership table is looking uncomfortably familiar from where Bradford are currently lodged. A point for Derby and three for West Ham leaves them in 20th place. A change of manager and a flurry of activity in the transfer market appears to have left their survival prospects unimproved.

In truth, yesterday's defeat was undeserved in many respects. Their commitment could not be questioned, giving Glenn Hoddle good reason to reflect most positively on his defenders in his post-match analysis. Centre-back Dean Richards - a "colossus" by his manager's reckoning - saved two certain goals, goalkeeper Paul Jones a couple more.

Most worrying for Bradford is that Benito Carbone, hired at £30,000 a week to terrorise opposing defences, suddenly appears to be an ordinary striker. He missed twice in the opening five minutes and again in the closing five. "I was disappointed with him," the manager, Chris Hutchings, admitted.

Southampton, in contrast, created little, even though their midfield play was often more impressive. Their only real chance fell to Marian Pahars, whose header from a first-half corner would have shamed a schoolboy. The goal they did score, was handed to them on a plate.

Carbone's first-half misses frustrated Lee Sharpe, who was Bradford's liveliest player. An improvised flick set up the first chance, Carbone's yellow boots taking him clear with only Jones to beat. His shot was horribly scuffed, however, and when Sharpe set him up again moments later he volleyed harmlessly over the top.

Even so, Southampton looked the likelier first-half scorers, although Jo Tessem's 28th-minute cross into the six-yard box from the right should not have been the cue.

What followed, however, was a botched effort by Gunnar Halle to clear, a desperate bid by Matt Clarke to prevent an own goal and a final touch from Hassan Kachloul to ensure the visitors went ahead. The Moroccan claimed the goal, although television replays appeared to show the ball had crossed the line once already.

Bradford were more determined and more cohesive in the second half, during which Southampton were restricted to only an occasional counter-attack. There seemed a case for introducing Matt le Tissier, eager to make a Premiership comeback, if only to distract the home side from their cause. Perhaps Hoddle felt that this was not the time.

He was vindicated by the end result. Jones made a decent save to deny Dan Petrescu and an even better one to keep out Ashley Ward's well-directed volley as Bradford tried in vain to find a way through. Richards made a heroic block to stop Dean Windass in stoppage time, by which point Carbone, diving to meet Gareth Grant's cross, had missed again.

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