With his pulse back to something like normal after surviving a particularly anxious last few minutes, Jones said: "We showed that when we need to, we can dig in. We had a makeshift side and a number of players started to tire in the last 20 minutes."
Southampton supporters had been critical of their manager's strategy in leaving Egil Ostenstad, Matt Le Tissier and Hassan Kachloul on the bench until the second half of Wednesday's 3-0 defeat at Tottenham. The latter pair duly started yesterday, though Ostenstad, like the defenders Jason Dodd and Ken Monkou, had failed a fitness test. With Mark Hughes in his proper position in attack alongside James Beattie, and Le Tissier and Kachloul just behind them, both sides looked much happier going forward than defending.
Ian Wright, out of the West Ham team since 2 January and now having treatment in the south of France, would have relished the time and space granted to his club-mates, who had four scoring opportunities in the first seven minutes, only to go a goal behind shortly afterwards. Frank Lampard and Steve Lomas shot wide and Trevor Sinclair, clean through, saw Paul Jones save at the expense of a corner, from which Marc-Vivien Foe's overhead kick was blocked almost on the goalline by Le Tissier.
The price of this profligacy was high, and quickly extracted. In the 10th minute, Le Tissier and Chris Marsden were allowed to work the ball forward for Kachloul, whose 25-yard drive was deflected off Rio Ferdinand just inside a post.
West Ham's Harry Redknapp could not remember his team having so many chances in an away game. Before half-time, Marc Keller, a right-footed left wing-back, miscued horribly from a good position and after the interval, the visitors continued to fritter away possession and chances. Eyal Berkovic, taunted as a "Judas" by his former admirers, shot far too high from Sinclair's pull-back and Ian Pearce's effort was worse. Sinclair did better in cutting in from the right to shoot fiercely, but Jones pushed the ball up in the air and Scott Hiley did brilliantly to beat Paolo Di Canio to the rebound on the line. With four minutes to go, Jones made another good save in beating away the Italian's shot from an angle.
Just before the interval Hughes had twice been close to his first goal of the season, but by the later stages Southampton were more like the away side, only rarely promising a second goal to calm them down in The Dell and ensure a fourth successive home victory.Reuse content