Huckerby's gem sinks the Saints

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Southampton 1 Coventry City 2

DARREN HUCKERBY upstaged Matthew Le Tissier in his own backyard in stunning style with a goal straight from the Southampton star's archives.

Le Tissier had been on the field for less than two minutes as a substitute before the England B international produced a contender for goal of the season at The Dell.

The Sky Blues were already one ahead thanks to Noel Whelan's 14th-minute effort when Huckerby struck his 10th - and easily the best - League goal of the season after 29 minutes.

As Le Tissier attempted to adjust to the pace of the game Whelan picked up a loose pass inside his own half and set off on a surging run. He advanced 15 yards into the Saints' half before laying the ball out to Huckerby, who drifted in from the left wing and unleashed a first-time curling right- foot shot past a stunned Paul Jones into the top corner. It was a flash of brilliance in an otherwise mediocre first half that Coventry comfortably had the better of, and the Highfield Road outfit fully earned their lead.

Le Tissier did find the net after he was brought down by Roland Nilsson before picking himself up to slot home the penalty after 79 minutes. That set up a frantic last 10 minutes, but Coventry held on for a deserved victory that lifted them to 10th place in the table.

The visitors had opened the scoring after 14 minutes with Whelan's fourth goal in the last six League games. He collected David Burrows' deep cross at the back of the penalty area and beat two half-hearted challenges from Lee Todd and Claus Lundekvam before firing past Jones at his near post.

Southampton had lost just once in the last eight games in a run that included victories over Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. But they rarely threatened in the opening period, and the biggest cheer of the night came after 27 minutes with the appearance of Le Tissier as a substitute for the unfortunate Andy Williams.

The Saints' new signing, John Beresford, was suspended due to bookings picked up at Newcastle. Coventry gave a first start to their Romanian striker, Viorel Moldovan.

Southampton: Jones; Dodd, Todd (Spedding, 51), Richardson (Hughes, 69), Monkou, Lundekvam, Ostenstad, Palmer, Hirst, Williams (Le Tissier, 28), Oakley. Substitutes not used: Dryden, Moss (gk).

Coventry City: Hedman; Nilsson, Burrows, Moldovan, Breen, Gavin Strachan (Boland, 78), Soltvedt, Huckerby, Dublin, Whelan, Hall. Substitutes not used: Johansen, Prenderville, Haworth, Ogrizovic (gk).

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).