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Report: Saints 1-0 Spurs

English Barclays Premiership

Glenn Hoddle's return to Southampton ended in disappointment in a Boxing Day clash to forget on the south coast.

A goalless draw would have been fitting as good football was at a premium at St Mary's but a scrappy encounter was eventually decided by another poor goal defensively - later described by the boss as 'a poor goal to give away'.

Gus Poyet, rested against Ipswich Town, came in for Simon Davies and Anthony Gardner started in place of Chris Perry.

The first half was more akin to a typical derby scrap Boxing Day with both teams snapping in, space limited and very little football played.

Most of the football played was played by us but our dominance of possession only really led to one good chance for Les Ferdinand - Saints didn't even have one chance of note.

In fact, it wouldn't be unfair to suggest that a touchline shouting match between two fiery Scots, our assistant manager John Gorman and Saints boss Gordon Strachan, was the highlight.

Gardner was booked in the third minute for tugging back Marian Pahars, who threatened to break away but it wasn't until the 21st minute that the first half-chance was created as Paul Jones could only palm away a Mauricio Taricco cross under pressure from Les Ferdinand but Christian Ziege hit the loose ball into the ground to allow Jones to recover.

Darren Anderton prodded Teddy Sheringham's flick over and the ex-Pompey player - and therefore another of the home crowd's favourites - squared to no-one after a break into the box.

Poyet's 20-yard effort was deflected wide on the half-hour and the home side's first attempt on goal soon followed as Paul Williams headed the combative Chris Marsden's free-kick over.

The best chance of the half came seconds before the break. Poyet's header hit a defender and rebounded to Ferdinand, eight yards out, but he blasted wide.

The second half started in complete contrast to the first with clear-cut chances at both ends. Only two minutes had gone when Anders Svensson latched onto Pahars' lovely pass and was through on Neil Sullivan who saved superbly.

Straight up the other end and Steffen Freund picked up a clearance from his own long throw, whipped in a superb cross only for Ferdinand to miss the target at the near post.

Poyet then spotted Gardner's forray down the left flank and as Jones rushed out, the defender slid out one of his long legs to square the ball to Sheringham but his effort was hacked away by Williams.

Southampton opened the scoring after 56 minutes. A free-kick was cleared, Williams humped the ball back into the danger area from half-way and James Beattie timed his run and jump to perfection to beat Sullivan in the air and nod into an empty net.

Sullivan made amends with a wonderful save eight minutes later. The ball was played into Marsden but landed at the onrushing Pahars' feet, he let fly immediately but Sullivan managed to tip the shot aside.

Our best spell of pressure on the 70-minute mark ended with Jones tipping over Anderton's 20-yarder at full stretch.

Simon Davies and Tim Sherwood entered the fray as we pushed forward but as the game became more and more stretched. so Saints were able to hit us on the counter. One of these breaks, three-on-three, led to Delap's low shot being tipped wide by Sullivan.

Anderton, the pick of the Spurs team, found Ferdinand at the far post after 84 minutes but his knock back found no-one.

Sergei Rebrov arrived with six minutes remaining for the final push as we ended with four up front but another chance proved elusive.

One to forget.