Football: Villa punished by Le Tissier

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Aston Villa. .0

Southampton. .2

TWO goals by Matthew Le Tissier, taking his tally for the season to eight, earned Southampton their first Premiership away win in a nine-month, 14- match spell last night as Aston Villa served up an abject show in the snow.

Le Tissier, frozen out by Ian Branfoot early in the season, has now scored six times in as many games since his recall. While the latest brace were not as spectacular as some recent efforts, both coming from close range early in the second half, they were greeted euphorically by the 100 Saints' stalwarts among the 16,180 crowd, Villa Park's lowest in the reign of Ron Atkinson.

The first goal, after 50 minutes during which the notion of entertainment appeared to have been put into cold storage, was a comedy of defensive errors by Villa. Their attempts to clear a Simon Charlton corner were hopelessly inept, the ball falling obligingly for Le Tissier to drive it past Mark Bosnich from five yards.

The Charlton-Le Tissier combination suckered Villa again in the 63rd minute. From a free-kick by the FA National School graduate, Southampton's enigma was allowed a free header from virtually point- blank range. Bosnich parried brilliantly, but Le Tissier followed up to score easily.

Southampton's deserved victory means Villa can write off any lingering hopes of running Manchester United close for the championship again. They are as frustrating and mercurial as 11 Le Tissiers right now: unbeaten away, yet defeated on four occasions at home; boasting more points than at the same stage a year ago, but with 25 per cent fewer goals.

Although Villa were striving for a fifth consecutive win, the fans are not fooled. The turn- out was half the average, and even allowing for the weather a frosty mood was evident. Following Le Tissier's flourish, the Holte End chorused 'What a load of rubbish.' At the opposite end they were chanting 'Matty for England' - presumably as player-manager.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Bosnich; Barrett, Teale, McGrath, Kubicki (Houghton, 64); Daley, Richardson, Townsend, Parker; Whittingham, Saunders. Substitutes not used: Ehiogu, Spink (gk).

Southampton (4-4-2): Andrews; Kenna, Monkou, Wood, Benali; Allen, Cockerill, Maddison, Charlton; Dowie, Le Tissier. Substitutes not used: Bennett, Adams, Beasant (gk).

Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).