Oakley prompts Saints' progress

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The Independent Online
STEPHEN BRENKLEY

Southampton 2 Swindon Town 0

While steadfastly refusing to be carried away on a tide of FA Cup passion, South- ampton advanced without undue alarm to the sixth round last night. Their victory over the Second Division leaders, Swindon Town, their third in the competition this season over Endsleigh League opposition, secured them a tie at Old Trafford. They will need substantially more than memories of their triumph over Manchester United in the 1976 final to sustain them further.

The two goals which took Southampton through came in a spell of 10 minutes in the second half. Both owed more to defensive errors than attacking invention - not that Matthew Oakley will be complaining. At 18 he was playing his 10th game for the club, called into the side only because Matthew Le Tissier had flu. Comparisons with the enigmatic Channel Islander have already been made but thus far these may be largely as a result of having the same forename than the same ability with a football.

Oakley scored his first Southampton goal - a commodity in short supply for Le Tissier this season - when Ian Culverhouse's back-pass to Fraser Digby fell woefully short. The goalkeeper flailed his arms at the ball but Oakley calmly did the necessary with the net wide open.

It was the first semblance of a mistake by Culverhouse but it was crucial. For the first time Swindon, cosy with a five-man defence, found themselves stretched and forced to throw men forward. After 77 minutes Shaun Taylor was dispossessed in the area by Jim Magilton. His pass through the remaining defenders found Neil Shipperley, who had no trouble scoring his 12th goal of the season.

Throughout the first half Southampton had the bulk both of possession and territory but found invention in shorter supply. Swindon had clearly come for a long evening of containment and were content to lie back and think of Old Trafford, a policy which demanded patience and might have had its reward.

Having escaped in the first minute when Magilton's prod from an Oakley header went narrowly wide, they absorbed the pressure comfortably. Their best if not quite their only opportunity of stealing the tie came early in the second half when Mark Robinson got away down the right. His cross was accurate enough for Peter Thorne to beat Richard Hall in the air but the header fell into Dave Beasant's waiting arms.

Southampton played out the tie after their second goal despite Swindon's sudden willingness to be bold; but they did little to dispel the notion that the sides could well meet again in League competition next season.

Southampton (4-4-2): Beasant; Widdrington, Hall, Monkou, Charlton; Oakley, Magilton, Venison, Walters (Robinson, 79); Watson, Shipperley. Substitutes not used: Tisdale, Grobbelaar (gk).

Swindon Town (5-3-2): Digby; Culverhouse, Seagraves, Taylor, Drysdale, Robinson; Collins (Finney, 73), Gooden, Horlock; Thorne, Allison. Substitutes not used: O'Sullivan, Ling.

Referee: R Hart (Darlington).

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