Football:Barnes back to the good old ways

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Newcastle United 2

Barnes 55, 75

Southampton 1

Davies 5

Attendance: 36,759

More important than missing a striker, Newcastle are missing a striker's luck. They squeezed Southampton so hard for all the game that you could hear the Saints squealing above the St James' continual roar of encouragement. Their tormentor in chief was Keith Gillespie, but whether the Irish winger's crosses were curled or lifted, crafted or blasted, Paul Jones's goal inexplicably escaped serious embarrassment.

"We made a lot of chances, had three maybe four cleared off the line, had one goal chalked off but kept on going," Kenny Dalglish said.

The damage Southampton did sustain came from John Barnes. The 34-year- old has played up front on rare occasions for his previous clubs, and, in his third game as emergency cover for Alan Shearer, Faustino Asprilla and Ian Rush, he scored the pair that secured the points.

In the 57th minute, he steered home a rebound when Gillespie's low shot hit the post, and then, in the 75th minute, he deftly won the game with a difficult header, a chance that again was created by Gillespie down the right.

That was Barnes's fourth goal in his last five games, suggesting an inspired piece of team selection by Dalglish.

"We might duck and dive with our players because of our situation and John is playing in a position some might find strange, but we have long memories and he played his best games at Watford in this position," the manager said.

Yet from the first minute, when Temur Ketsbaia's long-range shot was acrobatically tipped over by Jones, to the 84th, when David Batty shaved the post with a header, Newcastle had chances aplenty. Jones coped with everything Jon Dahl Tomasson could kick at him and when the keeper was beaten there were any number of players ready to clear off the line.

In the 37th minute, Southampton employed a more cynical tactic to protect Jones. As Tomasson sprinted clear, he was stopped from shooting when Claus Lundekvam pulled him back. The Norwegian was highly fortunate to escape with only a booking.

Newcastle's nervy disposition in front of goal, though, was partly caused by Kevin Davies's coolness. In only the fourth minute, he turned Philippe Albert comprehensively, ran and hurdled over Darren Peacock and chipped Shaka Hislop with a Scholes-esque calm for his 10th goal in 15 games.

Although tenacious, Southampton did not threaten again until the substitute Steve Basham had a 90th-minute opportunity to sour the 300th and last game of Sir John Hall's tenure as Newcastle chairman.