Football: Davies' strike takes shine off Lombardo

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The Independent Online
Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 0

It promises to be a long and hard first season in the Premiership for Dave Jones, but at least Southampton's new manager is off the mark. The Saints had one goal and no points to show from their first three Premiership games and although this was a less than convincing victory you could sense a deep feeling of relief around The Dell after last night's match.

As if his task is not hard enough Jones has had to cope in the opening weeks of the season with a series of injuries, most notably the broken arm suffered by Matthew Le Tissier in a pre-season game.

With Egil Ostenstad, his best striker, also missing because of injury, Jones must have feared the worst. But a combination of his own side's industry and Crystal Palace's profligacy brought its reward.

Jones said after the game that his team had "worked hard and deserved all three points". Steve Coppell, his Palace counterpart, thought otherwise and if he was not happy with his team's finishing he was at least pleased with the number of chances they created.

In truth, Palace should have won comfortably for in Attilio Lombardo they had by far the most talented player on the pitch and in Bruce Dyer they had the most dangerous striker.

For all their penetration, however, Palace lacked a killer instinct inside the penalty area.

Lombardo of all people, was guilty of the miss of the match early in the second half when he careless fired wide of a post when given a free shot from 10 yards.

"At least it proved he's not superhuman," Coppell said. "Everyone's entitled to miss chances and he's been excellent for us this season."

Palace also had every right to feel hard done by when Francis Benali's trip on Dyer midway through the first half did not produce a penalty. Wendy Toms, the assistant referee who last night became the first woman to officiate in a Premiership match, was well placed to view the incident but kept her flag down.

Southampton lacked creativity and indeed were booed off the pitch by sections of the crowd at half-time - but their resilience was to be admired.

Palace had taken control early in the second half when Southampton, inspired by the tireless Jim Magilton, clawed their way back into the game and a series of corners brought their reward after 57 minutes.

The central defender Ken Monkou won a header at the far post and Kevin Davies was on hand to drive the ball home through a ruck of players.

Southampton (4-4-2): Jones; Dodd, Monkou, Benali, Todd; Hughes, Magilton, Maddison (Neilson, 80), Spedding; Johansen (Evans, 66), Davies. Substitutes not used: Williams, Robinson, Taylor (gk).

Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Miller; Muscat (Freedman, 74), Tuttle, Edworthy, Linighan, Gordon; Lombardo, Roberts, Rodger; Dyer, Warhurst (Shipperley, 82). Substitutes not used: Hreidarsson, Fullarton, Nash (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton).