Southampton inspired by Le Tissier


TWO GOAL Jim Magilton gunned Southampton to a surprisingly bloodless FA Cup win from their first derby clash with south coast neighbours Portsmouth in eight years.

The unexpected return of Matthew Le Tissier proved the inspiration for Dave Merrington's side's first win since November 25, but it was Magilton, a £650,000 Alan Ball signing from Oxford, who took the honours.

He doubled his season's tally with two simple tap ins, and there was another late on by Neil Shipperley to delight the huge majority of a passionate, sell out 15,000 Dell crowd and depress those watching on screen down the road at Fratton Park.

Though less than 25 miles apart, the clubs have met rarely, just 28 times in 110 years, Southampton winning both previous FA Cup clashes in 1906 and again on their way to the semifinals 12 years ago.

With Le Tissier back after recovering from his calf injury and vowing to make 1996 the year he recaptures his England place, they were soon on top of their first division rivals and heading for win number 15.

He clipped a 25 yard shot over the bar while Portsmouth goalkeeper Alan Knight, the 34 year add only survivor of 1984 saved smartly from Neil Shipperley.

Portsmouth striker Paul Walsh, a Wembley winner with Tottenham, angrily rounded on Cornish referee Martin Bodenham for ignoring an alleged 11th minute minute penalty area trip by Jason Dodd.

He was still complaining as Saints bounded down to the other end and scored.

Gordon Watson's dribbling skill opened up the chance to cross and though Neil Heaney's back post header was blocked on the line, Jim Magilton rapped in the rebound.

To compound Portsmouth's gloom, Walsh was then booked for his earlier protests and the visitors' in discipline threatened to undermine their hopes of a comeback.

Guy Butters was lucky the card was only yellow for an awful late blunder on Le Tissier, and was joined in the book by Paul Hall and Robbie Pethick before the break.

By then, Saints should have had their place in the last 32 secure, Knight tipping a Shipperley header against his post and Le Tissier chipping across the face of his goal and wide.

But it was settled in the first minute of the second half when Le Tissier waltzed through from the right and his deadly left foot had Knight at full stretch to parry.

Magilton, following up, had a simple four yard volley to net.

Paul McDonald, making his first appearance of the season for Heaney at the break, was booked for a shove on Pethick, followed for the sixth time this season by Le Tissier after a clash with Fitzroy Simpson.

But Mr Bodenham took no action when John Durnin squared up with Watson.

Barry Venison, leading by tireless example, cut off Portsmouth's lifeline when he threw himself in front of a goal hound Simpson shot in the 64th minute.

Magilton missed his hat trick chance when Shipperley put him through moments later. Though he had Watson unmarked in the middle, he elected to take on Knight and the veteran beat aside his close range shot.

McDonald, on the transfers first, almost produced the perfect advertisement in the 73rd minute when he scythed a first time shot from Le Tissier's pass which dipped over the bar.

But Shipperley rounded off an emphatic win, Le Tissier working along the right byline and committing Knight before squaring the ball for the big striker to hook in to the empty net from four yards.

But there was still time for Barry Venison to collect the seventh booking of a game that lacked the heated emotion of past encounters. And Portsmouth were denied even the consolation of an 88th minute goal when substitute Jimmy Carter swooped on Ken Monkou's mishit back pass but shot against the post.

After the match Southampton manager Merrington admitted "There's so much rivalry because the teams don't meet on a regular basis and that makes it worse.

"I've worked hard to keep the dressing room on an even keel, while other people hype things up and put the pressure on.

"We gently reminded them of Reading (who beat Southampton in the Coca Cola Cup) and they knew the score. They came out of the traps after the hare and I knew they were always going to win" he added.