Football: Saints defence gives Jones a clear idea of the size of his task

Southampton 0 Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online
On a day of contrasting fortunes for Premiership newcomers at The Dell, Bolton took the points while Southampton's manager, Dave Jones, took home his first bad experience of a leaky Saints defence.

"I thought we were doing OK until a stupid mistake at the back," the former Stockport man said afterwards. "Which I understand was the story of last season."

On Saturday, Jones was without Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam and Alan Neilson, not to mention the talismanic Matt Le Tissier, but he still had reason to be annoyed at those deputising.

Two minutes before half-time Scott Sellars punted a throughball forward to Nathan Blake. As the striker proceeded towards the Southampton goal, the home defence decided he was offside (thereby taking a collective decision which the referee was not party to) and stood still. Blake, unhindered, slotted the ball comfortably home past Southampton's goalkeeper, Paul Jones, another Stockport emigre making his debut.

The only atypical aspect to the attack that secured Bolton the points was that Jones the keeper was beaten. On four other occasions in one-on- one confrontations with Blake, he produced fine saves to frustrate the Welsh international.

On others, notably when he turned an Alan Thompson drive on to the post 10 minutes from the end, he thoroughly vindicated his manager's decision to bring him to The Dell.

Dave Jones can also take solace in the performance of 19-year-old Andy Williams, a former Wales Under-18 international winger. He worked tirelessly down the left to feed the ball into the box and, if Southampton's attackers had been queueing up to score (rather than queueing up to send the ball over the bar) the outcome may have been more equal.

Bolton's manager, Colin Todd, had much more reason to be satisfied. His defence was never seriously troubled, Sellars and Thompson marshalled the midfield effectively, and John McGinlay and Blake, the scorers of 52 goals last season, always looked dangerous on the break. "The longer the game went on, the more we gained in composure," Todd said.

As the season goes on, Dave Jones will be hoping for some of that composure among his defensive ranks.

Goal: Blake (0-1) 43.

Southampton (3-5-2): Jones; Oakley, Todd, Magilton; Monkou, Dryden, Slater (Van Gobbel, 86), Maddison, Evans (S Johansen, 71); Ostenstad, Williams (Davies, 71). Substitutes not used: Benali, Taylor (gk).

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; Cox, Elliott, Frandsen, Taggart; Bergsson, Pollock, Sellars, Blake; McGinlay, Thompson. Substitutes not used: M Johansen, Phillips, McAnespie, Gunnlaugsson, Ward (gk).

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).

Bookings: Southampton: Oakley. Bolton: Thompson, Frandsen.

Man of the match: Jones.

Attendance: 15,206.