Tottenham winger Gareth Bale enjoys return to Southampton

 

Gareth Bale enjoyed yesterday's trip to his old stomping ground as Tottenham held firm to repel a Southampton comeback.

The 23-year-old came through the youth system at St Mary's and made 45 appearances for the south coast club before joining Spurs in July 2007.

Bale yesterday returned to Saints for the first time since his departure and headed home the opener to put Andre Villas-Boas' side on course for three points.

However, it was not the easiest of games for Tottenham as Southampton returned from the half-time break reinvigorated and Bale was pleased by the way they held on for a 2-1 victory.

"It was great to come back and it was obviously great to get back on the scoresheet," Bale said.

"I thought I best keep my celebrations to a minimum in a show of respect to the club.

"I think they came out in the second half fighting. They knew they had to bring the game to us and had nothing to lose really.

"They made it difficult for us in the second half and played some good football but we showed our character.

"We hung in there and got the three points we needed.

"I think the main thing for us is to take it one game at a time.

"We're enjoying our football now and we're on a good run so it is good times but we just need to keep our feet on the ground and move forward."

Mousa Dembele and Emmanuel Adebayor both missed yesterday's win with respective hip and back injuries.

Both are doubts for Wednesday's Capital One Cup clash at Norwich, with assistant manager Steffen Freund revealing today that Adebayor is now also suffering from a stomach bug.

He said: "Mousa Dembele is injured. Adebayor came in sick today and we need to see how he is tomorrow.

"I can't say at the moment which team will travel but it will be a strong one."

Few faces remain at Southampton from Bale's time there as, following his departure, they dropped down to the third tier and at one point teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.

However, back-to-back promotions saw the club end a seven-year exile from the top flight and the Welshman was delighted to face his former club at long last.

"It was amazing to see them back in the Premier League," Bale said.

"I was fully chuffed for them when they got promoted last season and I am sure if they keep playing football like they did in the second half that they will survive in the league and kick on from there.

"It was nice to come back. I've been waiting obviously about five-and-a-half years to do so.

"I've got some old friends here but the most important thing was to come here and get the job done with three points."

Southampton will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Capital One Cup tomorrow when they take on Leeds in the fourth round.

"It is a very, very quick turnaround," Saints boss Nigel Adkins said.

"In the Capital One Cup we have utilised the squad and we will do that again on Tuesday night up at Leeds.

"We have got a squad of players that all work very, very hard and we'll utilise the squad on Tuesday evening."

Jay Rodriguez netted twice in the previous round as Saints saw off Sheffield Wednesday with relative ease.

The former Burnley striker netted his third goal for his new club yesterday, lashing home from close range in the second half.

"He has come in, he is a young lad and works ever so hard on the training ground," Adkins said of Rodriguez.

"He works ever so hard on the pitch and needs to have a little bit of belief.

"His movement is exceptional as far as I am concerned. He has got a very good goalscoring record so we know he can scores goals but, like everyone, he needs a little bit of time."

PA

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