Le Tissier special saves Saints

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The Independent Online

Southampton 1 Crewe Alexandra 1

For most of last night's FA Cup fourth-round tie Southampton attacked and from beginning to end created a series of clear goalscoring chances.

They can consider themselves extremely fortunate still to be in the competition. The profligacy demonstrated by the 1976 winners - and barely a player was exempt - hardly deserved a replay at Gresty Road next week. Only a moment of inspiration from Matthew Le Tissier midway through the second half ensured that they would be making the trip. This was perhaps more surprising than the misses, so few have Le Tissier's interventions been so far this season.

Crewe Alexandra, having taken a bizarre early lead and then demonstrating extraordinary naivety under pressure, will have learned enough to have a sporting chance of a place in the fifth round for only the second time since 1888.

The match was given all the momentum it required before it was five minutes old. The teams were still familiarising themselves with each other and the frosty conditions when Gareth Whalley sent over a curling cross from the left which stuttered into the penalty area. The defence ignored it, the forwards missed it, goalkeeper Dave Beasant was nonplussed by it. The ball struggled apologetically into the far corner. Crewe looked as stunned as Southampton. If they were expecting hard work they got it. Within four minutes Southampton had as many firm opportunities to equalise.

Le Tissier, Jim Magilton twice and most culpably Neil Shipperley, who managed not to locate the target from four yards, all missed. So it went on. Headers went wide, shots were glibly driven over and wide and Crewe grew in confidence.

Mark Rivers might have increased their lead, so might Rob Edwards who forced Beasant to scramble back to tip over his chip and thank heaven that he grew to be 6ft 4in tall.

Southampton (4-4-2): Beasant; Dodd, Hall, Monkou, Charlton; Le Tissier, Venison (Maddison, 35), Magilton, Walters (Oakley, 61); Watson, Shipperley. Substitute not used: Grobbelaar (gk).

Crewe Alexandra (4-5-1): Gayle; Unsworth (Tierney, 33), Barr, Westwood, Smith; Edwards, Lennon, Collins, Whalley, Rivers (Garvey, 73); Adebola. Substitute not used: Savage.

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).