Match Reaction

Last updated : 14 January 2002 By Christian Kelly
It might have been a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United yesterday but Southampton can still take a lot of positives into their upcoming fixtures. Jason Dodd said: "In the first half we played really well, and we were disappointed to go 2-1 down. We needed a good start and we got one, but even though they did not play well they had two good chances and they put them away. In the last 20 minutes they played some decent stuff, when we could not get the ball off them - but that's what Manchester United are all about."

United boss Alex Ferguson was impressed with Saints performance saying: "Southampton gave us a really hard game - one of our hardest in ages. It was a battle. I thought they kept the ball really well and we knew before hand how good Beattie was in the air. I think, though, the goal just on half-time knocked the stuffing out of them a bit and we were much better in the second half - our passing was a lot better."

Gordon Strachan was equally taken with his sides efforts saying: "That performance would have won most games. We will certainly win more than we lose playing like that.

"For long periods of the game that was as good as we have played at any stage of the season, including the wins over Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs.

"I was very, very proud in the first half and it was a body blow when we conceded just before half-time. I felt it could have been us that was 2-1 up with the amount of chances we had."

"I told the players afterwards they should not worry about the last 15 minutes. I don't count them because we were tired after putting so much into trying to win the game.

"We felt we could score goals and we showed that but again their finishing was superb. When the third goal went in we counted up and reckoned they had had 10 shots on target in the two games against us - and scored
nine of them!

"That is some record. Van Nistelrooy had four shots and scored with all of them. But I am very happy with my lads and the way they tried to win the game and we made as many chances as them until their third goal went in."

Augustin Delgado came on to replace James Beattie, who suffered a dislocated ankle after landing awkwardly. He had an excellent game hitting the woodwork on one occasion and forcing a great save from Bartez later in the game. Jason Dodd said of the debutant: "He has only been in training for eight to 10 days and I thought he did very well."
Gordon Strachan echoed his captain's feelings adding: "Tino came on and did well. He was a real threat and I was surprised just how well he did considering he was only back in training on Monday."

Saints are still 15th, only four points above the drop zone. We also have a few tough fixtures coming up against Liverpool Arsenal and Newcastle. However we have been getting good results against the top teams and should hopefully take this form into the rest of the fixture list. Jason Dodd said: "There are 10 teams down there and we're in that bunch. We need to keep our recent form up to stay away from the fight."