Football: Carter drives to victory

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The Independent Online
Arsenal. . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Southampton. . . . . . . . . . . .3

SRI LANKA winning the Test match, a defender turned striker being picked for England, and now fun and games at Highbury. It's been a rare old week for March hares. In truth, seven goals flattered a game which rarely rose above the pedestrian. With Ian Wright nursing his suspected hernia, Arsenal packed midfield but none of their first three goals were the product of flowing football.

The winner, meanwhile, came in controversial circumstances. Only 11 minutes remained when Paul Merson's mazy run was arrested by Matthew Le Tissier's elbow. Merson quickly took the free-kick two yards ahead of the spot where the offence had been committed. Jimmy Carter advanced to beat Tim Flowers with a firm low shot while the disbelieving Le Tissier stayed seated throughout.

The enigmatic Channel Islander otherwise had a productive afternoon, creating a goal for Micky Adams and scoring one himself after Southampton had gone 3-1 down inside 20 minutes. In fact the Saints had opened the scoring, Iain Dowie profiting handsomely from a slick knock- down by Glenn Cockerill.

But Arsenal hit back with three goals in five dizzy minutes. Andy Linighan bundled in from Merson's deep cross, Merson himself took advantage of Kevin Campbell's foraging, and Carter put away his first of the day after good work from Campbell again.

The Saints' manager, Ian Branfoot, was unable to explain the feebleness of his usually resolute defence, but sportingly took the Arsenal winner in good part and scolded his players for sleeping on the job. Arsenal, meanwhile, are beginning to get the breaks which have evaded them for most of the season. Spurs and Sheffield Wednesday beware.

Arsenal: D Seaman; M Keown, N Winterburn, P Davis (D Hillier, 60 min), A Linighan, T Adams, J Carter, S Morrow, K Campbell, P Merson, A Limpar (P Dickov, 67 min). Sub not used: A Miller (gk). Manager: G Graham.

Southampton: T Flowers; J Kenna, M Adams, T Hurlock (J Dodd, 87 min), R Hall, K Monkou, M Le Tissier, G Cockerill, I Dowie, N Maddison, F Benali (N Banger, h/t). Sub not used: N Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot

Referee: K Barrett (Coventry).

Goals: Dowie (0-1, 5 min); Linighan (1-1, 15 min); Merson (2-1, 16 min); Carter (3-1, 20 min); Adams (3-2, 30 min); Le Tissier (3-3, 50 min); Carter (4-3, 79 min).