Football: Beattie bursts the Newcastle bubble

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Southampton 2

Beattie 16, Dodd pen 43

Newcastle United 1

Hamann 86 Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 15,244

NEWCASTLE'S inability to terminate a winless 27-year spell at the Dell was entirely their own fault. Defensive stupidity saw them two goals down after a first half in which they had looked much the better side and they did not exhibit enough urgency in the second half until it was too late.

A team with problems as sizeable as Southampton's needed no further encouragement to seize control and collect a deserved victory. Every man competed well and up front the bulk, strength and determination of James Beattie undermined a Newcastle side who had arrived with four straight wins to their credit.

Kevin Keegan will be happy to hear that Alan Shearer had an excellent match, albeit in a losing cause. He won just about every aerial challenge and it was a pity his skills were not better rewarded as Newcastle fought back in the second half.

Newcastle's early play, despite the yellow card shown to Shearer for a foul on Claus Lundekvam, was impressive. They worked the ball cleverly out of defence and through the midfield to use the headwork of Shearer and the speed of Nolberto Solano to good effect. The Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones had been forced into two saves from the Solano-Shearer combination before the home side were presented with the lead after 16 minutes.

Steve Howey's attempt at a back-pass was hopelessly under-hit. Beattie raced on to it, took the ball round Shay Given and tapped in.

A free-kick awarded when Lundekvam brought down Dietmar Hamann was curled over the defensive wall by Solano but rebounded from the bar. Profiting from this let-off, Southampton went further ahead two minutes before the interval. As Egil Ostenstad competed for a cross from Chris Marsden he was pushed by Didier Domi. Graham Poll not only considered the offence merited a penalty, but also booked Domi for it before Jason Dodd put the kick away.

In the next desperate minute three more yellow cards were handed out. Howey escaped with a caution when he might have faced red after pulling down Beattie, then Hassan Kachloul and Gary Speed were cautioned for jostling.

After alarming Newcastle with another effort into the side-netting, Beattie departed in the 75th minute feeling the groin strain which had made him doubtful for this match.

Jones fumbled the ball into his own net but Mr Poll ruled that he had been unfairly challenged by Shearer and for all their late pressure Newcastle looked like going unrewarded until four minutes to go. Then Rob Lee got in a cross which was headed home by Hamann.