Saints handed light sentence

Coventry City 1 Southampton 0
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The Independent Online
The one-goal margin of Coventry's victory did not come close to painting the full picture on Saturday. Ignoring the fact that Dion Dublin came within inches of scoring more than half a dozen times, and that Darren Huckerby and John Salako repeatedly carved through the opposition's defence with ease to set him up, it failed to illustrate quite how badly Southampton played.

Not that it mattered for Gordon Strachan, the Coventry manager who saw his summer signing, Trond-Egil Soltvedt, scoring his debut goal for the club and secure a second win of the season. "It was a great goal and we are delighted for Trond, because you'll not find a more likeable player in the world," Strachan said afterwards.

The decisive move, after 65 minutes, saw Roland Nilsson cross to Dublin, who flicked into Soltvedt's path. The Norwegian midfielder passed two defenders before coolly putting the ball in the net. A plethora of Coventry chances were wasted, mostly by Dublin, whose consistent heading opportunities in front of goal were marred only by the inconsistency of his aim. Paul Telfer, tireless both in creating openings and capitalising on them, was twice denied from a distance by the Saints keeper Paul Jones.

Southampton, who lacked any sense of direction, had only two real chances in the whole 90 minutes. Kevin Richardson, making his Saints debut only three days after leaving Highfield Road, set up Mickey Evans after five minutes, but Steve Ogrizovic saved with his leg. The Coventry goalkeeper, who turned 40 last Friday, was only mildly more troubled half an hour later, when a 25-yard drive from Matthew Oakley hit the cross bar and Egil Ostenstad headed the rebound into his arms.

Reflecting on his first six games (and five defeats) in the top flight, David Jones, the Saints manager, said: "It's not the best way to start your career in the Premiership. But I believe in myself and the players." That belief may be bolstered when Matt Le Tissier returns next week, or when early-term injury problems and the Premiership inexperience of many of his squad are overcome. It will certainly have to be converted into something more tangible quite quickly if Southampton are to lift themselves from the basement.

Goal: Soltvedt 65 (1-0).

Coventry (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Shaw, Burrows, Williams, McAllister; Salako, Telfer, Soltvedt, Nilsson; Huckerby, Dublin. Substitutes not used: Lightbourne, Boland, Hall, Johansen, Hedman (gk).

Southampton (4-4-2): Jones; Todd, Dodd, Monkou, Lundekvam; Oakley, Richardson, Evans, Ostenstad (Davies, h-t); Hughes (Neilson, 69), Bowen (Johansen, 69). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Maddison.

Referee: U D Rennie (Sheffield).

Bookings: Coventry: Williams. Southampton: Lundekvam, Johansen.

Attendance: 18,659.

Man of the match: Telfer.