Football: Banger arrives to provide the fireworks

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Southampton. . . .2

Middlesbrough. . .1

THIS was meant to be Perry Groves's day, but his first game for Southampton will be remembered more for the first first-team goal by the man who ran on as his substitute, the local boy Nicky Banger. Banger 'banged' it home, they will be saying - in truth it was a reasonable nod-in from six yards out - but it brings Southampton their first win of the season and with just seven minutes of the game to run, it was an immensely popular moment.

Perry Groves was never regarded as Arsenal's most lethal weapon and his appearance in the red and white stripes of Southampton hardly had a devastating effect on the Dell. However, he grew in stature throughout the game and began to link well with Kerry Dixon. Injury forced Groves to retire, but the Perry and Kerry show will run again.

Andy Roxburgh, the Scottish manager, was watching yesterday, and he is due to announce his next international squad tomorrow. One Scot being assessed, Southampton's David Speedie, missed one of the best chances of the match. Another, Middlesbrough's central defender Derek Whyte, was marking him and consistently won the aerial battle - with a 4in advantage he could hardly fail - but Speedie showed his superiority when the ball was on the ground.

This, unfortunately, was pretty rare as Southampton were playing as raw a version of Route One as you are likely to find in the Premier League. This style, however, kept Middlesbrough running backwards for most of the game and Lennie Lawrence's outfit were unable to settle into the pattern that impressed so many in their 4-1 dismantling of Leeds last week.

The three goals arrived in a hurly-burly last 15 minutes. Middlesbrough's, typically, was the product of an artistic build-up, Bernie Slaven passing into the box to Robbie Mustoe who ran diagonally across it and passed back for Paul Wilkinson to side-foot in.

Southampton's first was a sad moment for Middlesbrough's Alan Kernaghan, who had had an imperious game in defence throughout. Kernaghan was adjudged to have handled in the area and Matthew Le Tissier slotted the penalty home.

Three minutes later, Banger's moment arrived: the corner came from Le Tissier, Banger rose and nodded it unquestionably home.

Southampton: T Flowers; J Dodd, M Adams, T Hurlock, K Monkou, K Moore, M Le Tissier, N Maddison, K Dixon, D Speedie, P Groves (S Banger, 73 min). Subs not used: J Kenna, I Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot.

Middlesbrough: I Ironside; C Morris, J Phillips, A Kernaghan, D Whyte, A Peake, B Slaven, W Falconer, T Wilkinson, T Wright, R Mustoe. Subs not used: J Gittens, B Horne, G Parkinson (gk). Manager: L Lawrence.

Referee: R Gifford (Mid Glamorgan).

Goals: Wilkinson (0-1, 75 min); Le Tissier (1-1, 80 min); Banger (2-1, 83 min).