Football: Le Tissier's new footnote in folklore

Talisman for all seasons leaves the Selhurst bench to keep Saints' survival hopes alive and kicking; RONALD ATKIN AT SELHURST PARK Wimbledon 0 Southampton 2 Beattie 72, Kachloul 84 Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 34,822

SOUTHAMPTON ARE cranking up their Great Escape from relegation's clutches. This crucial victory came courtesy of what the Wimbledon coach Mick Harford called "two world-class deliveries" from Southampton's substitute and talisman, Matthew Le Tissier.

Le Tissier, who had not trained much recently because of a calf injury, was held on the bench until 20 minutes from the end. Then the Southampton manager, Dave Jones, pitched him into the frenzied action which was threatening to go the distance without a goal.

With his second touch, Le Tissier conjured a goal. Carl Cort conceded a free-kick on the left and the Channel Islander curled the ball towards the far post where James Beattie rose to head firmly home. If that produced frenzy among the 10,000 travelling fans from the South Coast, the clincher with six minutes to go was pure genius and was received as such.

That right foot was in action again to bend a corner-kick from the left- hand side which ended up in the net. Hassan Kachloul seemed to get a deflecting touch but afterwards Le Tissier said: "Robbie Earle's head got a touch to the ball but it was going in anyway and I'm claiming it."

So salvation lies in Southampton's own hands, next Saturday at home against Everton. Dave Jones, an ex-Everton man, said: "It doesn't matter who it is as long as we win. I have always said all we wanted was to have the decision in our own hands and that is how it will be now. We have to win next week to stay up. It looks like it's down to us or Charlton."

Southampton could not have picked a better time to collect their second away win of the season (the other, crucially, was at Blackburn) as they aimed for their 22nd straight year in the top division. They could also, it has to be said, not have been pitted against more suitable opposition than Wimbledon, who have now won only one of their last 20 matches. The heart attack which laid the Dons manager Joe Kinnear low also seems to have affected his players. You can almost see the skidmarks on the grass where their season has come to a halt.

Last week's win over Leicester which lifted the escape hatch, persuaded a huge contingent to make the trip from the South Coast to cheer their team on and it was a vital contribution. "All I could hear was our supporters," said Jones, while Le Tissier called it "brilliant support which turned it more or less into a home game." That said, it took Southampton half an hour to assemble their act. In that time Wimbledon looked far from lethargic or uninterested as they swarmed around Paul Jones, who was back in the Saints goal after making a surprisingly quick recovery from back trouble.

Jones was in action with three minutes played, punching away an inswinging free-kick from Alan Kimble and then diving to his left to make a brilliant stop from Cort's shot. Next, Carl Leaburn headed narrowly wide before Jones's leg got in the way of a goal-bound effort from Earle at close range.

After 34 minutes Southampton woke up and seemed to have scored. Claus Lundekvam's header from a Chris Marsden corner was poked home by Marians Pahars, only for the offside flag to be raised. But Southampton had spotted a crucial flaw. "Wimbledon were not defending the post at corners," Jones said afterwards. That was to prove the match-decider.

Then Chris Perry spoiled a fine afternoon by overrunning the ball under a challenge from Pahars and it rolled free to David Hughes. With all the goal to aim at, he permitted Sullivan to make a blocking stop and understandably held his head in his hands.

Southampton had their own let-off three minutes before half-time. A Mark Kennedy cross gave Earle a free shot but Francis Benali stopped it on the line and bundled it clear. From then on Southampton seemed to know the match would end up theirs, and there was a cheer after 50 minutes when Le Tissier began to warm up.

It seemed Southampton might not have needed him as Beattie went close from Kachloul's cross and the Moroccan began to run free down the left, causing problems every time he got the ball. A sudden Kachloul shot seem to surprise Sullivan, who could not cling on to it. As the ball rolled tantalisingly close to goal, Beattie was just unable to force it home before the danger was smothered.

As an Andy Roberts shot skimmed the Southampton bar Le Tissier was brought on. "He hadn't wanted to start the game in case he broke down," said Jones. But as soon as he came on, the amazing "Le Tiss" turned the match conclusively Southampton's way. At the end the ecstatic Saints fans were chorusing: "We're staying up". It is beginning to look very much like it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future