In any other walk of life, a gang of young men pulling off a heist as audacious as Leeds United did on Saturday could expect to be banged up for a 10-year stretch. Those present will be talking in hushed tones for years to come of the "Great St Mary's Robbery".
A week of high drama on the South Coast started with the abrupt departure of the Saints coach Simon Clifford dominating the headlines. Clifford hit back before the game by suggesting Southampton's players were "unfit" and prone to "letting games slip in the last five to 10 minutes". He may have a point.
With 19 minutes of Saturday's match remaining Saints were strolling at 3-0 up, thanks to first-half goals from Marian Pahars and a double from Nigel Quashie. Fifteen minutes later it was game over but with Leeds the unlikely victors.
When Paul Butler headed powerfully in from Gary Kelly's corner in the 71st minute, Southampton's confidence wavered. When Robbie Blake swept in a cross from substitute David Healy six minutes later it crumbled completely. The introduction of Healy had transformed the visitors and his chip tempted Danny Higginbotham into a handball with six minutes to go. Healy scored the resulting penalty himself.
"At half-time we were 3-0 down and playing poorly. You'd have to be the eternal optimist to think we could come back from that," admitted Leeds' manager Kevin Blackwell. The optimists were rewarded two minutes later when Liam Miller, on loan from Manchester United converted Rob Hulse's pass.
"Unbelievable, I don't know what to say. One of the worst results of my career," muttered Harry Redknapp. "With 20 minutes to go I couldn't see Leeds scoring one, let alone four."
Goals: Pahars (27) 1-0; Quashie (35) 2-0; Quashie pen (45) 3-0; Butler (71) 3-1; Blake (77) (3-2); Healy pen (84) 3-3; Miller (86) 3-4.
Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi; Delap, Svensson, Lundekvam (Hajto, 46), Higginbotham ; Oakley, Quashie, Wise (Fuller, 46), Pahars (McCann, 45); Walcott, Ormerod. Substitutes not used: Belmadi, Smith.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Harding; Richardson (Healy, 66), Miller, Derry, Lewis; Hulse, Blake. Substitutes not used: Pugh, Bennett, Walton, Douglas.
Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire)
Booked: Southampton Quashie, Wise; Leeds Butler, Lewis
Man of the match: Quashie.
Attendance: 30,173.Reuse content