Football: Le Tissier hat-trick keeps Saints afloat

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Norwich City. .4

Robins 37, Goss 48, Sutton 55, 63

Southampton. . 5

Ullathorne og 44, Le Tissier 58, pen 63, 72 Monkou 90Attendance: 17,150

THE ODDS are still against Southampton's survival in the Premiership but for the moment they have a lifeline after pulling off an extraordinary win at Carrow Road. Norwich led

3-1 with 35 minutes left but, after Matthew Le Tissier had scored his second hat-trick of the season in the space of 15 minutes, Southampton won with the ninth goal within seconds of the final whistle.

'If we go down now it will not be for lack of character,' Alan Ball, the Southampton manager, said. His 12th match since he took charge at the Dell had ended a run of seven without a win. He singled out Jim Magilton, the midfielder he signed from Oxford United, as the driving force. But the name that the travelling supporters were chanting was, inevitably, that of Le Tissier, who now has 20 of Southampton's 39 Premiership goals.

Defending with a laxness that their manager, John Deehan, described as 'embarrassing', Norwich did a good deal to offer encouragement whenever Southampton went forward, but it was a tribute to the spirit that Ball has instilled in his team that they were able to recover with Le Tissier making a tireless contribution.

Southampton, in fact, ought to have taken an early grip as Norwich, with several first-choice defenders injured, stumbled in front of Bryan Gunn's goal. Neal Maddison, in particular, was guilty of a glaring miss, making woefully poor contact after Iain Dowie's knockdown had invited him to give the Saints a ninth-minute fillip.

Dowie, twice, and Le Tissier missed other opportunities and when Mark Robins, substitute for the injured Gary Megson, scored with a splendid turn and shot from 18 yards in only his second appearance following a six-month lay-off, it was against the flow of play.

Maddison equalised in the last minute of the half, his shot deflecting past Gunn off Robert Ullathorne's boot, but when, in the first 10 minutes of the second period, Jeremy Goss headed home Neil Adams's cross and Chris Sutton pounced on a rebound after Dave Beasant's save had denied Robins his second, defeat seemed to be looming for Ball's team.

However, on 57 minutes, with Norwich defenders standing off as Maddison laid the ball back, Le Tissier gave Southampton renewed hope when his left-foot strike from the edge of the area found its way in off Gunn's outstretched left hand. Six minutes later, Jeff Kenna's surging run was derailed by Ullathorne's trip and Le Tissier, from the penalty spot, squared matters again.

Incredibly, Norwich were back in front within less than a minute, Sutton heading Ian Crook's free-kick in off the woodwork, but Le Tissier answered that by stealing in behind a shield of bodies to head home Kenna's fine cross.

To Southampton's dismay, that seemed to be the last action but the defender Ken Monkou moved into the the Norwich area and met Le Tissier's corner with a header that neither Gunn nor Mark Bowen could keep out.