Souness Ended 32 Years Of Toon Nothingness!


SOUTHAMPTON: Niemi, Nilsson, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Le Saux, Fernandes, Prutton, Delap, Anders Svensson (Best 76), Phillips (Crouch 67), Beattie.
Subs Not Used: Blayney, Higginbotham, Telfer.

NEWCASTLE: Given, Carr, Elliott, O'Brien, Bernard, Bellamy, Butt, Bowyer, Jenas, Kluivert (Milner 67), Shearer.
Subs Not Used: Robert, Hughes, Ambrose, Harper.

Att: 30,709


Graeme Souness returned to Southampton to preside over his first Premiership victory for Newcastle and the Magpies' first away win in the league against the Saints for 32 years.

It was also Newcastle's first Premiership away win since last October and it would have completed the perfect tale had Alan Shearer, recalled to the side, scored the goal that sparked the victory - as Southampton's PA announcer claimed.

But it was an own goal by David Prutton, stabbing in Shearer's cross-shot clearly before it crossed the line, that worked the oracle - along, of course, with Stephen Carr's stunning second-half winner after Anders Svensson had snapped up an equaliser.

Souness, appointed successor to Sir Bobby Robson, found the note of success in ringing the changes.

He brought back Shearer and Craig Bellamy as well as French defender Olivier Bernard after midweek rests on the bench in the UEFA Cup, left out the normally-dependable Aaron Hughes and the often unpredictable Laurent Robert.

With Kluivert partnering Shearer in attack and another new-boy Nicky Butt keeping a central midfield role despite his sending off as a substitute on Thursday, Bellamy was given the right-side slot where the injured Keiron Dyer had been playing. The England man had damaged a hamstring in training.

Souness had already lost at St Mary's this season when a last-minute James Beattie penalty contentiously beat his old Blackburn side. And he might have been forgiven for thinking rough justice was again at work in the opening minutes here.

Prutton, whose later contribution was to prove much more significant, chose two hard targets for early dubious challenges - both Butt and then Lee Bowyer going down from his late challenges which referee Chris Foy did not see.

Newcastle needed an alert Shay Given save in the 16th minute, however, to prevent Fabrice Fernandes' well-struck volley from sneaking home on the bounce but within two minutes Shearer, who had scored only three goals in 16 previous appearances against Saints and had never won an away match against his old club since leaving, should have buried a header.

He was up with typical power to meet Bowyer's right-wing corner, the product of a deflection off Graeme Le Saux from an earlier Shearer header, but put his effort wide of the mark. His screwed-up facial expression said everything about his disappointment.

With 23 minutes gone, Beattie - a Newcastle summer target - led a lightning Saints break with a brilliant run and was only foiled right at the death by Robbie Elliott's fine tackle.

Long-range efforts by Butt, one straight at Antti Niemi, another miles off target, were the sum total of Newcastle's first half threat even though they largely had the edge in the first half - until Kluivert just failed to convert

Bellamy's low right-wing cross with an attempt at a diving header. The ball just brushed off his forehead.

But the Saints fans who reacted with obscene chants whenever Souness appeared in his pitch-side technical area, had good reason for cursing when Prutton stabbed Shearer's shot across his own line just before the half time interval.

He made amends with the ball in that provoked Svensson to pull away from his marker and shoot home past Given on the turn eight minutes after the break but then Carr's wonderful strike retrieved Newcastle's lead four minutes further on.

Jermaine Jenas touched a free kick aside and the £2million Irishman from Tottenham curled a beautiful effort away from Niemi from all of 30 yards.

And although Saints huffed and puffed manfully to the end, sending on big Peter Crouch for little Kevin Phillips and youngster Leon Best to make his debut in place of scorer Svensson, they had to depend on a smart save from Niemi to again prevent Shearer netting a header to improve his scoring record against his old club.