Sheffield Wednesday 0 Southampton 1

Jones underlines Sturrock's striking problem
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The Independent Football

Southampton were relegated anyway, but Sturrock was yesterday denied the satisfaction of swift revenge by a player who helped Wednesday to the play-offs.

Kenwyne Jones, the Trinidad and Tobago international who scored seven goals in as many games while on-loan at Hillsborough from Southampton last season, returned to haunt his former team-mates, not least 19-year-old Richard Wood, whose slip gifted Jones his goal and gave Southampton their first Championship victory.

In truth, though, the difference in class between the former Premiership side and the one which climbed out of League One through the play-off door was greater than the scoreline suggests. Southampton should have extended their lead as they assumed control in the second half, and few would argue with Sturrock's verdict. "Experience counts for a lot. They have a lot of Premiership players and they made it very hard for us to play."

Wednesday looked in the same League only until Jones' decisive intervention in the 21st minute. They had dominated the opening stages with the captain, Glenn Whelan, nodding Chris Brunt's left-wing cross wide from close range before Brunt galloped clear and shot wide from the edge of the box.

But with the rain pouring down it was Jones, who brought a small torrent of goals to Hillsborough last season, who turned the tide. Wednesday's centre-back Wood slipped on the sodden surface. Jones robbed him and skipped past Frank Simek before beating goalkeeper David Lucas with an angled drive into the far corner.

Sturrock's disappointment at losing Jones became keener as his strike force was depleted through injury with the season barely a week old. He was forced to give an immediate debut to new signing David Graham and still harbours hopes of bringing in Steve Claridge next week.

As the sun came out, Jones underlined what Wednesday were missing as he and Dexter Blackstock strove to extend Southampton's advantage. The latter was twice put clear. On the first occasion, he stumbled as he was about to shoot with only the goalkeeper to beat, and he then allowed defender John Hills to make a saving tackle.

Matt Oakley came closest to adding to the Saint's tally, his 25-yarder bringing a fine, stop out of Lucas. Wednesday tried to steal something on the break, but the closest they came was an unsuccessful penalty appeal after Lee Peacock went down under Tomasz Hajto's challenge.

Southampton's manager, Harry Redknapp, was relieved to record a first victory in the lower Division. "We passed the ball well today, but we can still do better. This is going to be a very open League this year, and I don't see anybody running away with it."

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