Southampton 2 Coventry City 0: Rasiak's decisive penalty sparks Coventry protest

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The Independent Football

Coventry did not meekly accept their first defeat of the campaign. As the teams left the pitch at St Mary's last night their assistant manager, Adrian Heath, had to be restrained from a confrontation with Grzegorz Rasiak, the Pole whose 85th-minute penalty completed Southampton's victory.

Rasiak had fallen all too softly for Coventry's liking after the merest contact with Elliott Ward. "If he was a boxer and he went down that easily, the promoter wouldn't have given him his purse,'' said Micky Adams after seeing his Sky Blues succumb to the club he once graced.

The furore over the penalty took the spotlight away from Gareth Bale, the scorer of Southampton's first goal which was, in fact, the second of the campaign for the 17-year-old Wales full-back.

The way he is going, Bale's reputation this term will be enhanced as a marksman. "Technically he's very good in that type of situation,'' said the Southampton manager, George Burley, referring to Bale's knack of scoring with free-kicks. Coventry's goalkeeper Andy Marshall was left helpless by Bale's 61st-minute effort which went in off an upright.

Coventry hardly deserved to lose, let alone by a two-goal margin which might have been three had Kenwyne Jones not bent a shot on to a post soon after coming on.

Dele Adebola's header which rebounded from an upright was the best of Coventry's efforts in the first half, which they dominated. They did so with little help from Gary McSheffrey, the man very much in demand - from Birmingham City - who was eventually substituted. "We struggled to get Gary into the game,'' Adams admitted.

Southampton (4-1-3-2): Davis; Ostlund, Baird, Pele, Bale (Cranie, 90); Viafara; Belmadi, Wright, Skacel; Wright-Phillips (Jones, 82), Rasiak. Substitutes not used: Poke (gk), Dyer, Surman.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Marshall; McNamee, Heath, Ward, Hall; Birchall (Virgo, 68), Hughes, Doyle, McSheffrey (Hutchison, 73); Adebola (Cameron, 73), John. Substitutes not used: Tabb, Thornton. Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).