Blackstock is Saints' saviour
By Richard Jolly. Last Updated: 27/10/04 9:45pm
Substitute Dexter Blackstock saved Southampton from humiliation with a remarkable hat-trick to beat spirited Colchester 3-2 in the Carling Cup.
The 18-year-old had never previously scored a senior goal, but he eased the pressure on beleaguered head coach Steve Wigley with a one-man rescue act for shambolic Saints.
For 45 minutes, Southampton were out-thought, outfought and outplayed by a side who included two former Saints trainees, Sam Stockley and Stephen Hunt and took a deserved lead through the effervescent Neil Danns.
Wigley's winless wonders (in The Premiership, anyway) were fortunate not to be both a goal and a man down in the early minutes, last man Claus Lundekvam tugging back Craig Fagan in the box. There was no penalty, but a goal soon followed, the diminutive Danns heading home when Saints failed to clear a corner.
Buoyed by the goal, Colchester started to mock Southampton (well, everyone else is). Fagan juggled the ball in the Saints box, Danns dribbled past three for fun and later strolled through to whip a shot just over the flying Antti Niemi's bar.
In contrast, Southampton were insipid and uninspired. Strikers Brett Ormerod and Leon Best were almost bystanders, such was the lack of service. The execrable Neil McCann kept passing to opponents; he at least managed to find team-mate Niemi after a 20-yard solo run in the wrong direction.
Wigley removed the woeful winger at half time and sent for the cavalry in the shape of Blackstock and Paul Telfer. The duo immediately combined for the equaliser, the teenager turning in the Scot's free kick.
Suddenly, Southampton had the momentum and Blackstock doubled his tally four minutes later, reacting quickest to keeper Dean Gerken's weak parry of David Prutton's shot.
A thumping shot from Jelle van Damme almost provided a third for Saints, but their defence hardly inspired confidence. The giant Pat Baldwin headed wide from a corner and then Fagan robbed the slow-witted Lundekvam and set up Halford to sidefoot Colchester's second.
The underdogs appeared to have the impetus to go on and win it. Fagan almost provided the game with a twist, but miscued his shot straight to Niemi. He then turned provider, but strike partner Halford dallied too long and van Damme made a last-ditch tackle.
Instead, Blackstock decided it, stealing in at the far post to touch in Telfer's free kick. Southampton, and Wigley, should be grateful for his heroics.
Capital One Cup
Wed 27th Oct - Third Round
Southampton3 - 2Colchester
Chelsea1 - 0West Ham
Newcastle2 - 1Norwich
Man City1 - 2Arsenal
Birmingham0 - 1Fulham
Bolton3 - 4Tottenham
Everton2 - 0Preston
Middlesbro'3 - 0Coventry
Charlton1 - 2C Palace