Football: Liverpool bow to Saint Davies

Southampton 1 Davies 48 Liverpool 1 Riedle 35 Attendance: 15,252
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The Independent Online
Matthew Le Tissier returned for the Saints yesterday, and although he was unable to capitalise on either of the chances that fell to him in the 42 minutes he was on the pitch before he was pulled off with a tweaked hamstring, his mere presence seemed to inspire the home team.

It was not Le Tissier, however, who stood out for Southampton, but striker Kevin Davies, who scored a wonderfully composed equaliser and earned a well-deserved point for the home side. Liverpool, after their exertions on Tuesday against Celtic in the Uefa Cup, looked disorganised for much of the game.

The defence, and Mark Wright in particular, who let Southampton dispossess him several times, made numerous mistakes that could have cost them dearly. The attack squandered chances too, with Steve McManaman missing a great chance after 22 minutes. Taking from ball from the halfway line he set out on a run which was reminiscent of the move that ended in his goal against Celtic.

On this occasion, however, instead of dribbling through the defence he lost his footing and fell over. The breakthrough for Liverpool came after 39 minutes when Stig Bjornebye sent a left-footed cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where Karlheinz Reidle, who had shaken off his marker, left the Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones with no chance as he headed powerfully home. Reidle could have scored earlier, but his fierce header in the sixth minute produced a fine save from Jones.

Southampton's goal came three minutes into the second half, when Davies picked up a long ball from Kevin Richardson just inside the Liverpool half. Davies took the ball forward, shrugging off two challenges from Wright in the process and slotted home his fourth goal of the season. Ten minutes later he could have had a second after dispossessing Michael Thomas and making another winding run on goal. Liverpool, however, were lucky to have Bjorn Kvarme on the line and Davies's shot bounced off his shin.

The Liverpool manager Roy Evans said afterwards that he was not very pleased with his team's performance: "We were very average on the day," he said, adding that: "Having gone 1-0 up and failed to take the initiative is disappointing. "

His Southampton counterpart Dave Jones, who looks set to add Carlton Palmer to his squad for pounds 1m on Monday after agreeing terms yesterday morning, was somewhat happier: "It's a good point for us and a good way to build on Wednesday," he said, referring to the midweek 3-1 defeat of Brentford in the Coca-Cola Cup. Jones was also pleased with Davies's performance and his goal. " I think he'll be a big star in the Premiership," he said.

Southampton's next apearance is at home to Leeds on Wednesday, and if Le Tissier is not fully fit, and the Palmer deal has not gone through for any reason, Davies may well get his chance to demonstrate his potential again.