Svensson is Saints' saviour
By Richard Jolly. Last Updated: 06/11/04 4:46pm
Ten games and counting. Steve Wigley remains winless in the Premiership but his Southampton side, denied by a late equaliser last week, were grateful for another this as Anders Svensson earned a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion.
Rob Earnshaw had opened his Albion account with a first-half brace to put caretaker manager Frank Burrows on course for his first victory until Svensson's intervention.
Wigley will be able to empathise with his Albion counterpart after Robin van Persie's late leveller for Arsenal last week but the boos at the final whistle were for his side after a match that, even in November, met the definition of a six-pointer.
The result means that each side has a solitary win apiece in the first three months of the Premiership campaign. Southampton were spared a seventh defeat by Swede Svensson, their most inventive player throughout and scorer of both of their goals, even if the second owed much to Paul Robinson's deflection.
West Brom, thrashed 4-1 by Chelsea last week, were understandably cautious and Svensson's 27th-minute opener was reward for a positive start from Southampton. Darren Kenton, attack-minded even at right back, stung Russell Hoult's palms while the fit-again Kevin Phillips and the emerging Dexter Blackstock offered pace up front.
The initial impetus for the goal came on the right wing with a surging run from Mikael Nilsson. Robinson's well-timed tackle halted him but fell for Paul Telfer to cross to the unmarked Svensson, who directed his header past Russell Hoult.
West Brom, previously subdued, responded in kind. Hungary captain Zoltan Gera swung in a cross and Earnshaw got a touch to Jonathan Greening's header to beat Alan Blayney, though the inexperienced keeper's attempt to parry it was feeble.
The Ulsterman had no chance six minutes later as Earnshaw, guilty of several glaring misses since his £3 million move from Cardiff, finished clinically when Southampton failed to clear another Gera cross.
Though West Brom's last win against Southampton came courtesy of a goalkeeping error from Paul Jones, Blayney, a late replacement for the injured Antti Niemi, deserved more sympathy after a hat-trick of athletic blocks prevented his side from falling further behind.
He tipped the gifted Gera's free kick over, blocked a Neil Clement blockbuster and denied Greening a long-range goal; with impressive shooting power in midfield, Albion looked capable of scoring a third.
But Wigley is developing a nice line in substitutions. Replacement Blackstock scored a hat-trick against Colchester, Neil McCann came off the bench to set up two goals at Highbury and though his changes here did not have the same impact, they contributed to Saints' revival.
The quick Kenton was moved into the centre of defence to deal with Earnshaw, McCann was introduced on the left wing and Svensson adopted a central role.
Though both Phillips and Rory Delap headed wide, the Swede posed the main threat. Hoult had parried one shot, but was helpless when Svensson dribbled into the box, shot and watched the unfortunate Robinson turn it into his own net.
Delap almost added a late winner but, for Wigley, the wait goes on.
Click here for Southampton v West Brom player ratings
|Team Name||Southampton||West Bromwich Albion|
|Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5||5|
|Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5||5|
|Total Fouls Conceded||14||15|
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||28||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||28||25|