Buoyant Beattie heaps more misery on Wolves

Southampton 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
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The Independent Football

The Saints go marching on, still unbeaten and not having conceded a goal since the first 10 minutes of their opening game of the season at Leicester in August. Just as vitally, James Beattie continues to collect goals for his club. If Sven Goran Eriksson might be wondering why he can't do it for England, Southampton's fans don't care as long as he wallops them in the way he did in each half against a woeful Wolves. It is Southampton's best start to a season for 20 years, which was news, and undeniably good news, for the manager, Gordon Strachan.

The first score was a penalty, rather generously awarded after Denis Irwin appeared to clip Kevin Phillips' heels as he meandered into the left side of the box. The readiness with which Phillips went to earth incensed Wolves, who must be feeling nothing can go right at the moment, and Beattie added to their supporters' anger by taunting them after side-footing the spot kick high into the net.

They could have no complaints, however, about Beattie's second soon after the interval. Even Wolves' manager, Dave Jones, who signed Beattie when he was in charge at Southampton, called it "a wonder strike". Phillips slid a perfectly weighted pass into the penalty area and the blond striker put such venom into his cross-shot that, though Michael Oakes in Wolves' goal got a hand on the ball, he could do no more than slow its passage.

The fashion in which Phillips unhinged Wolves' back line and made space for Beattie drew the comment of "absolutely fantastic" from Strachan, who also praised Beattie for the way he had overcome an indifferent first half. "I think he was getting over the international game on Wednesday and all the expectations," Strachan said.

There could have been more goals to boost the Southampton tally, generally from free-kicks as Wolves lost their shape, not to mention their composure, in the second half. They have scored only once, conceded 12 and collected a single point. "At the moment we are wounded," Jones admitted.

Wolves carried a tetchy look from the start, and no wonder in view of their record, but their feelings were only exacerbated by the refereeing of Uriah Rennie. Having dished out 11 yellow cards in his first two Premiership games this season, he awarded another eight here (five for Wolves, three for Southampton). Although he showed compassion to the visitors by opting to lecture Colin Cameron when he might have dismissed him for a second bookable offence, Wolves still felt hard done by.

Having muttered "I have got to be careful" when asked about the official, Jones then added: "It was all about Uriah today, how good he looks. I just thought he had a poor game." At one point both sets of supporters were taunting Mr Rennie with a chorus of "You don't know what you're doing" and Jones admitted: "We were singing that as well."

There was nothing of substance in this game for Wolves' large following totake heart from. Nathan Blake headers either side of half-time, both off target, were the only serious efforts on goal, while Oakes denied the eager Beattie a hat-trick with a flying save off the free kick that earned Paul Ince a booking - and Ince flashed one of his trademark glares at the referee.

Southampton 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Beattie pen 37, 52

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 31,711