Of all Southampton's victories this season, none will be sweeter than this. James Beattie's header after 57 minutes gave his side three important points in their annual battle against relegation.
But more importantly for Saints fans, the win denied their former manager, Glenn Hoddle, a happy return to the south coast – his Tottenham side slipping to a second consecutive defeat against lowly opposition.
Hoddle is vilified not only for the alacrity with which he departed the Solent for north London last March, but for his raid in September, when he lured Southampton's defensive stalwart, Dean Richards to White Hart Lane for £8.1m. Both former Saints were roundly abused throughout by the majority of a record 31,719 crowd at St Mary's Stadium, where Southampton have now won three in a row, after failing to win in their first five.
Tottenham started with three central defenders, Richards flanked by the impressive youngsters Ledley King and Anthony Gardner, while up front, the twin 35-year-olds Les Ferdinand and Teddy Sheringham foraged from the ample supply of Gustavo Poyet and Darren Anderton.
In truth, Southampton may have been suffering a hangover from their 6-1 mauling at Old Trafford, because they offered little during the first half. Paul Jones in the Southampton goal had to be alert to foil Christian Ziege, while Poyet and Sheringham both wasted good opportunities.
"I can't remember us dominating a game like that and not scoring," said Hoddle. "We were in control but failed to take our chances." Ferdinand was the worst culprit, lashing a left foot shot wide of the target at the end of the first half, then heading wastefully over the bar early in the second.
Southampton were a changed side after the break. Neil Sullivan had already made an outstanding save from Anders Svensson, when more pressure from the home side produced a free-kick. Spurs cleared their lines, but Paul Williams lofted a high ball back into the area, which Sullivan seemed to lose in the sun. Beattie rose highest, his looping header sailing into an empty net.
Both sides had their chances afterwards. Marian Pahars and Rory Delap were thwarted by Sullivan, while Jones made the best save of the game to palm away Anderton's rasping effort with 20 minutes remaining.
An increasingly animated Hoddle endured a barrage of abuse to shout instructions from the technical area, but even the introduction of Tim Sherwood, Simon Davies and Sergei Rebrov failed to disturb a Southampton defence capably marshalled by Claus Lundekvam. All in all, not too many happy returns for Tottenham's former Saints.
Southampton (4-4-2): Jones 8; Dodd 7, Bridge 6, Lundekvam 7, Williams 7; Telfer 5, Delap 6, Svensson 7, Marsden 7; Pahars 7 (Ormerod, 81), Beattie 8. Substitutes not used: El Khalej, Petrescu, Le Tissier, Moss (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (5-3-2): Sullivan 8; Taricco 4, Ziege 6, King 7, Richards 6, Gardner 6 (Davies, 75 6); Freund 6 (Sherwood, 70 5), Poyet 7 (Rebrov, 85), Anderton 7; Ferdinand 5, Sheringham 5. Substitutes not used: Perry, Keller (gk).
Referee: P Jones.Reuse content