Sheffield United. . . 3
THE manager's lot is not a happy one. Not at Southampton at the moment. Yesterday's draw will not alleviate Ian Branfoot's situation. His team were twice two goals up, but they still allowed 10- man Sheffield United to get back and steal a point.
Branfoot was booed on and off the pitch. Which is further than Matthew Le Tissier got; if Branfoot had not dropped the Saints favourite for a third successive time, perhaps he would not have faced a coordinated campaign of dissatisfaction.
Southampton, after eight league defeats in nine, needed and deserved more against a Sheffield side who had lost four games in five, but they were caught out by United's infamous resilience.
Even before David Tuttle's dismissal for two bookings, Southampton were superior, especially in midfield where Peter Reid injected a sharpness and subtlety. Reid, making his Dell debut five weeks after being sacked from the Manchester City managership, was clearly appreciated by Southampton's fans, who applauded him warmly at his 75th- minute substitution.
Reid will hardly have expected the drama he left behind. Southampton had just conceded a soft goal to Willie Falconer, which cut the lead earned by Kenneth Monkou, who stroked home a Mickey Adams free-kick, and Neil Maddison, who volleyed in to the top-right corner. The job looked done, though, when Jeff Kenna scored with a low drive from the edge of the box.
But back came United in a typical high-adrenalin finish. Jostein Flo headed in Carl Bradshaw's cross to reduce the deficit and, in the last minute, after Southampton had again been on the attack, it was Flo again, fashioning a score from a goalmouth scramble.
Southampton (4-4-2): T Flowers; J Kenna, K Moore, K Monkou, F Benali; P Allen, P Reid (G Cockerill, 76 min), N Maddison, M Adams; I Dowie, P Moody. Subs not used: F Bennett, I Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): S Tracey; K Gage (D Whitehouse, 70 min), D Tuttle, P Beesley, D Barnes; C Bradshaw, P Rogers, W Falconer, G Hodges (C Hartfield, 83 min); A Littlejohn, J Flo. Sub not used: S Bibo (gk). Manager: D Bassett.
Referee: G Poll (Berkhamsted).
Goals: Monkou (1-0, 29 min); Maddison (2-0, 53 min); Falconer (2-1, 72 min); Kenna (3-1, 77 min); Flo (3-2, 80 min); Flo (3-3, 90 min).