Sodje makes the most of Mad Dog's motivational skills

Southampton 2 Brentford 2

Martin Allen jumped naked into a river in the morning to give his players a laugh, spent half of a bitterly cold afternoon at St Mary's jacketless as he bounced up and down the touchline, and explained afterwards how he had signed one of his defenders after watching him "try a tracheotomy on a centre-forward" during one of five games in which he was sent off last season. It was an odd day for Brentford's manager to explain why he dislikes his "Mad Dog" nickname.

Martin Allen jumped naked into a river in the morning to give his players a laugh, spent half of a bitterly cold afternoon at St Mary's jacketless as he bounced up and down the touchline, and explained afterwards how he had signed one of his defenders after watching him "try a tracheotomy on a centre-forward" during one of five games in which he was sent off last season. It was an odd day for Brentford's manager to explain why he dislikes his "Mad Dog" nickname.

"The people who pay their money to come through the turnstiles can call me what they like," he said. "But in other circumstances I don't appreciate people making judgements about me when they don't really know me. They talk about me yet they don't know how I operate, the amount of work I put in and the depth of my preparation and organisation.

"People just think it's a question of motivation and diving in rivers. You don't get a team to play like that by diving in a river. You do it by working long, long hours on the practice pitch. People say: 'He's mad and he gets them all to run like crazy.' Well there's a great deal more to it than that."

After Southampton had gone 2-0 up in what appeared to be a mismatch of an FA Cup fifth round tie, Brentford's comeback was a tribute to Allen's management skills. "We prepare and practise for those situations," Allen said. "When you score a goal we tell the players not to go hyper and run round the field doing somersaults, high-fiving everybody and waving to their auntie, uncle, Tom, Dick and Harry. We tell them to get back in position and be ready for the game to restart. It's the same if you concede a goal: get back in your position, don't let it affect you, keep calm, keep cool and keep playing."

Henri Camara had emphasised Southampton's early superiority. Kevin Phillips and Graeme Le Saux combined to give him a tap-in after three minutes.

Stuart Nelson then set up his second when his drop-kick cannoned off Phillips to Peter Crouch. The Brentford goalkeeper could only parry Phillips' subsequent shot into the path of Camara.

The match was turned around by a sweet move set up by Brentford's tracheotomy specialist, Sam Sodje. (Allen also revealed that in one match as Sodje's opposing manager at Barnet he "had to resort to a little 'interaction' in the tunnel at half-time" after the Margate man had tried to kick his centre-forward off the park). Sodje cleverly drew two opponents before releasing Isaiah Rankin, who finished a searing run with an excellent bending shot. Sodje himself equalised 13 minutes after the break, heading home Jay Tabb's cross.

Brentford were the better team in the second half, playing measured football and dominating possession. Harry Redknapp, Southampton's manager, complained that a late strike by Phillips should not have been disallowed for offside, the referee's assistant had flagged because of Camara's presence on the far side.

Redknapp admitted he had taken a gamble by playing three forwards - he will not be so adventurous when he goes to West Bromwich Albion tomorrow for a crucial match at the bottom of the Premiership - and lamented the early chances his team had wasted.

Allen, who consults Redknapp, David Pleat and George Graham in a constant quest to improve himself as a manager, will be on a coach heading for tomorrow's League One match at Hartlepool - one of the teams Brentford need to overhaul in the chase for a play-off place - when today's quarter-final draw is made. "When the name of Brentford comes out that will be very special," Allen said. "I have to pinch myself when I think that just over a year ago I was with Barnet in the fourth qualifying round at Bracknell, where the pitch was roped off. It's happened so quickly for me."

Goals: Camara (3) 1-0; Camara (35) 2-0; Rankin (40) 2-1; Sodje (58) 2-2.

Southampton (4-3-3): Smith; Delap, Lundekvam, Davenport, Bernard; Oakley, Prutton, Le Saux (McCann, 67); Camara, Crouch, Phillips. Substitutes not used: Poke (gk), Telfer, Jakobsson, Higginbotham.

Brentford (4-3-2-1): Nelson; Dobson, Turner, Sodje, Salako; Hutchinson, Talbot, Frampton; Rankin (May, 75), Tabb (Harrold, 89); Burton (Hunt, 81). Substitutes not used: Lennie (gk), Fitzgerald.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Southampton: Le Saux, Prutton. Brentford: Rankin.

Man of the match: Sodje.

Attendance: 24,741.

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