Football: Jones takes pride in Saints' willpower

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The Independent Online
Southampton 1

Liverpool 1

In the week when a referendum on a Welsh assembly was almost too close to call, it seems appropriate that men called Jones and Evans, albeit both from Merseyside, should finish honours even.

But whereas Southampton, and their manager David Jones, were content to settle for a point, Liverpool and Roy Evans were unhappy with a performance which gave few indications that they might be title contenders this season.

Liverpool took the lead against the run of play six minutes before half- time with a powerful Karlheinz Reidle header. That would have been their third goal had it not been for an excellent save from the Saints' goalkeeper Paul Jones early on (again from a Riedle header), and Steve McManaman's collapse after 22 minutes, when he was clear in front of goal and fell over his own feet.

Liverpool had few other chances until late in the game and their defending was poor. Mark Wright, in particular, had a terrible return to his old club, and was at fault after 20 minutes when Kevin Davies was allowed a shot on goal. Wright tripped while attempting a clearance and Davies was only denied by a diving David James.

The Southampton equaliser three minutes into the second half, came after another Davies and Wright encounter. Again the Saint was dominant, and having picked up a Kevin Richardson long ball, sold Wright a dummy to each side and turned to drive home his fourth goal of the season.

Each side had a key player making a return from injury. Matthew Le Tissier lasted 43 minutes for the Saints before succumbing to a pulled hamstring. No doubt his form will improve as his regains full match-fitness, but he failed to put away two chances.

Liverpool's Robbie Fowler, who came on for the last half-hour, showed more promise with two opportunities of his own, but one attempt was narrowly off target and the other, a dipping lob six minutes from the end, was just fingertipped to safety by Paul Jones.

"We were up against one of the best teams in the Premiership but we rattled them with our will to win," David Jones said. His counterpart, Evans, added: "We just simply didn't perform." Both men were right - and both have much still to do to fulfil their respective ambitions of Premiership safety and supremacy.

Goals: Riedle (0-1) 39; Davies (1-1) 48.

Southampton (4-4-2): Jones; Dodd; Benali; Richardson; Monkou; Lundekvam, Le Tissier (Bowen, 43; Williams, 73), Oakley, Evans; Davies, Neilson. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk); Maddison; Johansen.

Liverpool (4-3-2-1): James; McAteer, Bjornebye, Kvarme, Wright; Matteo, McManaman, Thomas; Ince, Riedle (Berger, 69); Owen (Fowler, 60). Substitutes not used: Babb; Carragher; Warner (gk).

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

Bookings: Southampton: Benali, Le Tissier. Liverpool: Kvarme.

Man of the match: Davies. Attendance: 15,252.

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