Savage resistance foils Southampton

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The Independent Online

Had it not been for Glenn Hoddle once inviting Peter Taylor to join him in the England set-up, he might yesterday still have been managing Dover, who were playing Woking. As it was, he was inflicting defeat on the man who gave him his first opportunity and at the same time taking Leicester to second place in the Premiership.

Had it not been for Glenn Hoddle once inviting Peter Taylor to join him in the England set-up, he might yesterday still have been managing Dover, who were playing Woking. As it was, he was inflicting defeat on the man who gave him his first opportunity and at the same time taking Leicester to second place in the Premiership.

Southampton had slipped to familiar ground, already thinking more about safety than success, but with a midweek win over Ipswich, Leicester had maintained their unbeaten opening to the season.

There is no doubt that Taylor is among the best of the new generation of managers. In spite of the experience of running the England Under-21 team, he is about to discover whether he can mastermind a run in European competition at club level. Managing Gillingham and Dover is not serious preparation for the forthcoming Uefa Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade. So yesterday's further confidence-building was even more welcome than hearing Hoddle call him "a manager who will take Leicester on to even greater things".

Taylor's most valuable inheritance from Martin O'Neill at Filbert Street is the spirit of defiance. It was personified in Robbie Savage yesterday, as he quickly assumed responsibility for putting a clamp on Southampton's dangerous counter-attacking that several times allowed Jo Tessem and Uwe Rösler to create ominous gaps in the Leicester ranks.

Savage also supported Leicester going forward, once heading a shade wide of the post and being fully involved in attacks that saw Andy Impey also head close and Ade Akinbiyi centre cleanly across the Southampton penalty area without a Leicester foot getting a touch. That became a theme, with Neil Moss regularly seeing the ball skidding or flying across the face of his goal.

So Leicester had no lack of opportunities, yet Southampton's chances were, if anything, the more difficult to defy. Indeed, Tim Flowers had to be especially alert to make a double save, first from Rösler and then, after the Leicester keeper had managed to push the ball out, from Hassan Kachloul.

The arrival of Stan Collymore after the interval immediately gave Leicester more versatility up front. At the same time, though, Southampton tried to defend near the halfway line. Again Savage busied himself over a huge area of the pitch and Steve Guppy's persistence down the left side began to create an increasing number of openings. Yet it was after moving across to the right to take a corner that Guppy finally provided Leicester with a goal. His corner into the area was headed in under pressure by the industrious Gerry Taggart.

There were still 24 minutes left for Leicester to cling to a lead which was certainly not beyond Southampton's retrieval. Both managers, who are supposed to be tactical perfectionists, were reduced to bellowing "Get rid of it!" or "Hold it!" according to their needs, and nothing more sophisticated. On the other hand, perhaps that's what comes of watching England too often.

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