Southampton V Leicester City Always A Fixture With Drama !
Friday, 30th Apr 2021 11:28
Saints take on the Foxes looking to gain some revenge for an FA Cup Semi Final defeat, this fixture at St Mary's always seem to be surrounded by a drama of one sort or another, here we look back at a few of those games.
This fixture never seems to be played without incident, back in December 1997 the 15,121 who were present in a sold out Dell crowd saw one of those magic moments as Francis Benali headed his only goal for the club in the 54th minute for what turned out to be the winning goal.
But the drama goes back further than that, in October 1967, Leicester arrived at the Dell and won 5-1, that after Ron Davies had given Saints the lead on the half hour mark, the Foxes ravaged us in the second half and truly rubbed it in in the final minute when their goalkeeper Peter Shilton who would join Saints 15 years later scored when he punted the ball down the field and in heavy wind and rain the ball took one bounce and sailed over Campbell Forsythe in the Saints goal to complete the scoring.
The weather seems to be a dominant factor in this fixture, in March 1987 the pitch still had snow on it although it was melting and the goalmouth had puddles on it, we would win the game 4-0, Matt Le Tissier with a hat trick and Gordon Hobson obliging, but it could have been more, on at least one occasion the ball stopped dead in a puddle on the line and was cleared.
In the final game of the season in 94/95 Saints finished 10th, but it could have been 9th, Leicester arrived on the final day having been relegated weeks earlier, we took a 2-0 lead through that man Le God again and were cruising, then Leicester pulled one back and scored in the last minute to salvage an unlikely draw and mean we finished two points behind Wimbledon but we had a far better goal difference.
But 7 years later we gained our revenge in March 2002, Leicester in their first ever visit to St Mary's took a 2-0 lead by the 25th minute, but this was the Marian Pahars show, he pulled one back fairly quickly and then scored from the spot in the dying minutes, as in 1995 , Leicester would be relegated at the end of the season.
2006/07 saw a game that was almost called off due to torrential rain, it was played and we won 2-0 and with the opening goal scored by none other than Pele, sadly not the Brazilian legend but the central defender of the same name scoring what would be his only goal for the club, were you there when Pele scored for Saints, that is a good quiz question.
Another game in which a two goal lead was blown was in October 2015, Leicest were of course going for the Premier League title, but that looked an impossible dream as Saints burst their bubble taking a half time lead through Jose Fonte and Virgil Van Dijk, Jamie Vardy pulled one back in the 66th minute but Saints looked to have hung on with the game deep into injury time, but a poor clearance from Kelvin Davies in what would be his last ever appearance for the club saw Vardy score an unlikely equaliser.
Perhaps the most controversial meeting though was in January 2017, in the 55th minute with Saints cruising and the ball running harmlessly for a goal kick , Virgil Van Dijk was ushering it out when that horrible little scroat Jamie Vardy with nothing to gain decided to run his studs down the back of his leg and forced the Dutch defender off with an injury that ended his season and ultimately scuppered Saints chances of a trophy, I think had Van Dijk played in that League Cup final against Manchester United we would have won it.
That was our last win over the Foxes at home, in the last three seasons we have fared better away than at St Mary's, whatever the scoreline this evening, there will be something to talk about, there usually is.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
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