SOUTHAMPTON 2 CITY 0
League Division 1
16th August 1980/81
Scorers Channon(13 & 34)
Ref K Baker
City Corrigan, Ranson, Caton, Reid, Booth, Henry, Tueart, Daley, Sugrue, Power, Reeves – sub Stepanovic(unused)
Southampton Katalinic, Golac, McCartney, Williams, Watson, Nicholl, Keegan, Channon, George, Holmes, Baker – sub Hebbard
Tony Book writing in the City programme 23rd August 1980
We began the season 45 minutes late last Saturday. By then, of course, Southampton had showed us a clean pair of heels, pushed two goals past Joe Corrigan, mercifully missed a handful more, and left us with a mountain to climb to salvage any respect from the match.
Contrary to the southern view in reports from The Dell, I do assure you that we could have earned a point. Our recovery was total after a half-time set-to in the dressing room and while we did not chalk up any goals from our second half superiority there is no question that we made everyone realise that this City is a greatly improved side from the one which went down 1-4 to Southampton last January. Come to think of it, that part of the south coast has not been very kind to us in recent years.Victory for the Saints took their total of League and Cup wins over us to six consecutive games. Our undoing was the effect of all the ballyhoo that attached itself to the occasion. It was carnival time in Southampton, the debut day of their new hero Kevin Keegan, and we foolishly sat back with a sense of awe at what was going on. Despite our efforts to avoid that situation, being aware that several members of our young side had not experienced such an atmosphere, the players got caught up in it. It was Keegan’s day and this not only generated an unusual atmosphere, the ground was packed out long before the kick-off, but it had the home team pawing at the dressing room door like greyhounds trying to get at the action. TV cameras were whirring, press quotes were popping up everywhere, it was pandemonium. Our intention was to push into their half right from the kick off and make them realise they were up against something. We never got a chance. While we fumbled around to get into gear the Saints came at us, bulldozing great gaps in our defences, and they caused us a load of almighty problems. Rushed off our feet we gave away goals. Big Joe Corrigan down the years has probably been one of the most honest players I have ever met in terms of taking, or allocating, blame for defensive errors. Well, the big man stood up in the dressing room at half time and accepted full responsibility for permitting our old striker, Mike Channon, the room to head the home team into the lead from a cross to the near-post which Joe would normally have devoured in his hands. Later in the half we failed to spot the danger of a through ball from Charlie George and it opened us up badly when there was no need to be so exposed. Those are the opportunities Channon thrives on and he lobbed the bouncing ball over big Joe to leave them firmly in the driving seat.
But Southampton were not that good over the 90 minutes. l concede that their half-time lead could have been many more as we struggled with our marking and failed to organise our effort, but it was a much different tale after the break.
I thought we could have saved the match. While it may be argued that this would have been hard on the Saints after all their first half domination the fact is that games are decided over 90 minutes. And our stamina looked far better than that of Southampton as the end approached.
We had four or five good chances and they fell to the men we normally expect to tuck them away. Kevin Reeves could scarcely believe his failure to hit the net while Dennis Tueart will probably never miss identical opportunities ever again, partly, I feel, because he missed some training and pre- season matches to get his sharpness due to a family bereavement.