Writer: Stef C
Date:Monday January 2 2006
St Mary's Stadium
George Burley was forced into wholesale changes again, as even more players joined the already extensive injury list.
Some fans won't be too concerned that Rory Delap missed out with an ankle injury! Neil McCann also missed out with an achilles problem and Kenwyne Jones didn't recover from a foot injury, so Leon Best got his first start of the season.
Saints got off to a great start when Dexter Blackstock scored in only the tenth minute. Belmadi played him in with a perfect through ball, and Blackstock slotted home with an angled shot into the bottom right corner.
After that Saints appeared to get complacent and instead of pushing on after taking the lead we allowed Brighton back into the match.
Brighton levelled in the 21st minute when Folly allowed Frutos to get past him and cut it back from the byline, Robinson laid it off for an unmarked Mayo to slot home from 12 yards out.
Brighton clearly gained confidence from the goal and Burley would have been glad to get the team in at half time to rearrange things.
Leon Best didn't perform in the first half and it was unsurprising to see him replaced with Ormerod at half time.
Saints were lucky not to go behind on 61 minutes when Niemi superbly stopped a powerful 25-yard volley from Frutos. We were struggling to break down Brighton and Burley sent on Prutton for Cranie after 64 minutes. Prutton went to right-back and Baird switched to the left.
Only a few minutes after that Burley was forced into making his final change when Kenton limped off to be replaced by youngster Matthew Mills. Unfortunately this meant Burley couldn't bring on Walcott to run at the tiring Brighton defence.
Belmadi nearly scored with a fantastic volley with ten minutes to go, but it was tipped over by Chaigneau. That shot sparked Saints into life and just 2 minutes later we were ahead. Dyer used his trickery on the right before hitting a shot that Blackstock turned in from eight yards out for his second of the game.
Brighton pushed everyone forward for the final few minutes but Saints held out for a much needed win.
It wasn't totally convincing but at least we've started 2006 with a win, which is a huge relief considering the injuries we've had. Now Burley finally has some time to work with the team so hopefully we can get some players back and push on.
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Date:Monday January 2 2006
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