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The BBC's Alan Green
"It would take a peculiar series of results to send Saints down but Bradford are in trouble"
 real 28k

Glenn Hoddle
"We're not safe yet but it was a terrific result"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
City suffer Saints' escape act

Pahars goal is a crucial one in the relegation struggle
Bradford 1-2 Southampton

Southampton look safe for another year in the Premiership thanks to substitute Marians Pahars' first few touches.

The Latvian ran in to score the eventual winner seconds after replacing Matt Le Tissier, adding to Chris Marsden's opening deflected effort.
Key moments
Edgy first half sees little of note
56 mins: Windass deflects Marsden's shot past Clark
76: Pahars enters the pitch - and scores
77: Blake offers Bantam unfulfilled hope
Bradford needed a little bit of luck to avoid a fifth successive Premiership defeat.

But they got none and are rapidly running out of opportunities to avoid an immediate return to the Nationwide League.

Robbie Blake did pull a goal back immediately after Pahars had made it 2-0 but Saints hung on to leave Bradford needing to make up a point in every remaining game on either Wimbledon or Derby.

Survival experts Southampton are in relative comfort at this stage of the season, sitting 11 points clear of the drop zone.

Moss gathers return

The visitors had keeper Neil Moss starting his first game for 11 months following a back operation for Paul Jones this week.

And the returning keeper was quickly into the action, saving a Dean Windass 20-yard volley, the first of a number of Bradford chances in the first half hour.



We've got a mountain to climb so we just have to climb it and we will still go on until our task becomes impossible

Paul Jewell
David Wetherall hit the base of a post with a downward header and then sidefooted wide from a tight angle.

Defender Gunnar Halle was also denied by Moss as the half's closing stages saw Saints come into the game.

Seven minutes before the break, Bradford keeper Matt Clarke was forced into his first true save of the game as Kevin Davies shot from 12 yards.

Le Tissier, starting his first match since December, had the final chance of a dull half but Clarke smothered the ball.

Freak opener

The second period was much more entertaining, with Andy O'Brien having to mop up the danger after Clarke dropped a Le Tissier corner in the opening minute.

Blake was then denied by Moss while Jo Tessem had to to slide in to clear a Lee Sharpe cross.



We were a little fortunate with the first goal and you have to feel sorry for Bradford in some respects because I know exactly how they feel

Glenn Hoddle
But ten minutes of Bradford pushing for an opener ended with Saints scoring a freak goal.

Marsden's goalbound shot from 25 yards looked as if it would be easily covered by Clarke.

But a deflection off Dean Windass saw the ball beat the wrong-footed keeper for the Saints midfielder's first goal of the season.

The ineffective Jorge Cadete was then replaced by Isaiah Rankin, who has only just returned from a loan spell at Birmingham.

Supersub Pahars

But it was Saints boss Glenn Hoddle who made the crucial substitution as Le Tissier made way for Pahars.

The Latvian immediately went on a solo 76th minute run which took him past two Bradford defenders before beating Clarke with a searing low, left-foot finish.

Bradford responded instantly as Blake showed equal tenacity after being initially denied by Moss.

The striker seized upon the rebound and fired home into the roof of the net off the head of a Saints defender on the line.

Sharpe spectacularly volleyed over from 12 yards as Bradford pushed for an equaliser.

Blake was also denied by Moss again with no chance of a rebound strike this time, leaving Bradford to plan an unlikely path to safety.

Teams:

Bradford: Clarke, Halle, Wetherall, O'Brien, Jacobs, Sharpe, McCall, Windass, Beagrie, Blake, Cadete. Subs: Westwood, Todd, Rankin, Dreyer, Davison.

Southampton: Moss, Dodd, Richards, Tahar, Benali, Ripley, Tessem, Marsden, Bridge, Le Tissier, Davies. Subs: Bevan, Soltvedt, Beattie, Lundekvam, Pahars.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

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See also:

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Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.