Football: Downtrodden Saints rise again

Southampton 3 Kachloul 31, Oakley 62, Ostenstad 86 Leeds United 0 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 15,236
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The Independent Online
THE local hope was that Matt le Tissier, who had started on the bench in Southampton's previous five matches, would come on from the start at the Dell yesterday and play Leeds off the park. His was a brief appearance but, no matter, Southampton still outplayed a high-flying young Leeds for a badly needed victory which defied the evidence not just of recent defeats but their whole season.

Time being a healer, presumably Southampton had been sitting back watching the wounds of a fortnight ago turn from angry red to resentful purple. Their last match had been the 7-1 defeat at Liverpool that manager Dave Jones, even after yesterday's win, said was the most humiliating blow of his managerial career and "one I'll never get out of my system". The Saints' humbling by Fulham in the FA Cup, which had caused their absence from the action last weekend must have been his second worst blow. Meanwhile, Leeds had gone down the coast to Portsmouth and sunk that troubled club's Cup hopes by 5-1. So the omens were piled high against Southampton.

Ominously, Le Tissier's return lasted just 10 minutes. He was not even involved in a tackle when he stopped running and gave a despairing glance back at the bench which had become his semi-permanent home. He limped off but Southampton's disappointment was not immediately obvious. Although the crowd groaned, the team quickly lifted themselves as Patrick Colleter's driven low shot from beyond the penalty area needed to be palmed away by Nigel Martyn.

For a team on such a promising run of quality performances, Leeds had begun without imagination or meaningful possession. They constantly found themselves being pressed back and when Matthew Oakley shot just a shade wide the visitors should have heeded the warning. They didn't, and after half an hour conceded a goal.

Following a corner, Mark Hughes had a shot charged down. The ball came to Jason Dodd whose shot was also blocked, but Hassan Kachloul back-heeled the ball past Martyn. It was the Moroccan international's fourth goal in eight games since his arrival after buying himself out of his contract with Metz.

In a match often lacking original ideas, at least Saints kept their shape well and played the more careful game. As a result they deservedly furthered their advantage just before the hour, but not exactly with the most thought- out goal. Colleter had hit a free kick against Leeds' defensive wall. Kachloul and Hiley were in the midst of a gathering crowd in the Leeds goal mouth but could not connect powerfully enough. Neither could James Beattie who hit the post before Oakley scrambled the ball in.

In an extraordinary turn of events since their most recent humiliations, Southampton finished the game with the crowd cheering each pass and finally revelling as Beattie finished a strong run by laying the ball off for Egil Ostenstad to snatch an easy third. The Leeds manager David O'Leary was phlegmatic in discussing his team: "You have got to remember they're young kids and they've been taught a lesson."

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