Widdrington leaves Leeds wanting

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The Independent Online
STEVE BRENKLEY

Southampton 1 Leeds United 1

After doing the difficult bit at The Dell last night, Leeds United fluffed what should have been the easy part. Having taken 71 minutes to score against a surprisingly buoyant Southampton - for much of which time the Yorkshire side's defence was forced to be patient in absorbing regular attacks - they then conceded a rather sloppy equaliser to drop their first points of the season.

They might even belatedly have lost the lot had substitute Frankie Bennett made more of a shot from the right, as he should have done, following a breathtaking glide across the left by Matthew Le Tissier, whose shot could only be parried by John Lukic into his path.

For much of the second half, Le Tissier had been peripheral to proceedings, but this has never stopped him before from making the most significant contribution of a match, and here he did so again when he had the scent of victory in his nostrils.

He was cast in a forward role alongside Neil Shipperley, which left Southampton the conundrum of who might meaningfully pass the ball to him from midfield. But they made light of this at first. Le Tissier, indeed, might have scored in the early minutes, when his conventional centre-forward's header at the far post went narrowly wide.

That attack set the tone for much of the first half. South-ampton went forward a touch uncertainly, trying to get the ball to Le Tissier while Leeds sat patiently back, apparently not much bothered. Leeds conceded a series of corners, all taken by Le Tissier, but only when he found Richard Hall's head were they under serious threat.

Leeds seemed to have the measure of Southampton's resilience a minute before the break, when Gary McAllister's shot from 25 yards after a dummy by the subdued Tony Yeboah forced a save from Dave Beasant.

McAllister pushed up more after the break. Southampton were correspondingly pushed back, their defence looking vulnerable. First, Brian Deane hit the inside of a post with a crisp strike from the left, but it was Tony Dorigo who scored splendidly from a similar position - his first goal for two seasons.

Leeds went backwards again, Southampton had some life left. The ball went bobbing around the six-yard box after a corner, and Tommy Widdrington claimed the final touch from close range to secure a point which perhaps meant more to Southampton than it did to Leeds.

Southampton (4-4-2): Beasant; Neilson, Dodd, Hall, Benali; Widdrington, Magilton, Maddison, Charlton (Bennett, 75); Shipperley, Le Tissier. Substitutes not used: Hughes, Grobbelaar (gk).

Leeds Utd (4-4-2): Lukic; Kelly, Wetherall, Pemberton, Dorigo; Wallace (White, 19), Palmer, McAllister, Speed; Yeboah (Worthington, 75), Deane. Substitute not used: Beeney (gk).

Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).

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