Riverside rocked

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The Independent Online
Middlesbrough 0

Southampton 1

Magilton pen 59

Attendance: 29,509

Such were the long passages of talentless tackiness at the Riverside Stadium yesterday, it seemed appropriate that it was a save by a defender that decided this game of football.

In all 90 minutes, there were only four goal-bound efforts. Three were diverted by regulation goalkeepers, the decisive one was turned over by the right-back Clayton Blackmore. Jim Magilton slammed home the penalty to give Southampton their first away win of the season and as a result, they exchanged places at the foot of the table with Middlesbrough, who have won just once now in 16 league games.

The penalty came in the 56th minute when Saints' Egil Ostenstad stumbled over the ball and the referee, Gerald Ashby, awarded a corner. Matthew Oakley swung it over, Ken Monkou headed sweetly goalwards andBlackmore splendidly tipped it over. Mr Ashby pointed for another corner, but after two minutes of frantic debate he saw the error of his ways and dismissed the offending player.

Previous to the penalty, Southampton's only other on- target effort was in the 41st minute. The ball bounced off Steve Vickers' head on to the chest of Michael Hughes whose shot was well saved by Gary Walsh. In the 70th minute, Matt Le Tissier made Walsh save for the second time with a lovely curling shot which was pushed on to the foot of the post.

Middlesbrough's one goalbound effort was in the 39th minute, when Robbie Mustoe's shot bobbled and deflected its way towards the bottom corner. Maik Taylor saved well and recovered quickly before Juninho could pounce on the rebound.

Boro's most rapier-like attacks came before and after the game. Before, the chairman, Steve Gibson, threatened legal action against papers speculating about Robson resigning. Afterwards, Robson himself criticised the match officials. "I thought the referee's decisions were incredible," he said, "and some of the offsides were unbelievable."

Gibson threatened legal action against two newspapers over stories claiming their manager, Robson, had offered to resign over Christmas. "No such talks have taken place and it is completely untrue that Bryan Robson offered his resignation," he said. Robson expressed his commitment by announcing that he had just returned from Milan having agreed the pounds 2.7m transfer of Internazionale's centre- back, Gianluca Festa.

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