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Saturday, 15 September, 2001, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Pahars halts Bolton charge
Pedersen tangles with Tahar at Reebok Stadium
Pedersen tangles with Tahar at Reebok Stadium
Bolton 0-1 Southampton

A second-half strike by substitute Marian Pahars earned Southampton their first points of the Premiership season at high-flying Bolton Wanderers.

For much of the game, the weather was drab and the football little better as both sides struggled to create opportunities at a sodden Reebok Stadium.

But with nine minutes remaining Wayne Bridge made good ground on the left-flank and fed Pahars, who made no mistake from the edge of the box.

Early play had reflected the team's respective positions in the Premiership.

We saw the final piece in the jigsaw with this victory, which I thought we deserved
Saints boss Stuart Gray

Struggling Southampton, who had failed to score a goal in their first three league games, were pushed back immediately by table-topping Bolton.

Barely five minutes had passed when Tahar El Khalej was adjudged to have fouled Henrik Pedersen.

Danish international Per Frandsen stepped up to take a stinging free-kick which hit the base of Paul Jones' post.

Bolton players pay their respects
Bolton players show their respects

Minutes later Michael Ricketts made a probing run and should have latched on to a ball from Simon Charlton, but his control let him down.

Southampton had shown very little attacking flair but might have taken the lead themselves after 31 minutes, when James Beattie stooped low to meet a cross by Bridge.

His header - from only six yards out - fell harmlessly wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen's post.


It proved something of a turning point, however.

Rain-swept but defiant, the Saints defence pushed up and the visitors enjoyed a spell of possession, spraying the ball around neatly and looking the more likely to score in the run-up to the interval.

The second half started badly for Bolton.

We all knew we would lose some time in the Premiership - I'm just disappointed it's happened for the first time at home
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce

They lost their playmaker Frandsen to an ankle injury and with him disappeared much of their rhythm.

Southampton, while never wholly convincing as an attacking force, looked for that elusive Premiership goal and Dean Richards and Beattie came close with headers.

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce introduced Dean Holdsworth for Ricketts in the hope of igniting his attack.

And the switch almost paid immediate dividends when Bo Hansen found space and hit the post from 20 yards.

Southampton brought on Pahars and he made an immediate impact, finding space in the Bolton penalty area, but not quite getting in his shot.

Moments later he did.

Bridge was responsible for the build-up and the little Latvian did the rest to send Saints fans away happy with three points and their first Premiership goal.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Barness, Bergsson, Whitlow, Charlton, Hansen, Frandsen, Warhurst, Nolan, Pedersen, Ricketts. Subs: Banks, Holdsworth, Gardner, Southall, Nishizawa.

Southampton: Jones, Delap, El Khalej, Lundekvam, Richards, Bridge, Davies, Tessem, Svensson, Oakley, Beattie. Subs: Moss, Marsden, Benali, Pahars, McDonald.

Referee: D Pugh (Bebington)

BBC Sport's Alan Biggs
"Bolton have come far enough to be disappointed"
Saints manager Stuart Gray
"Marian Pahars is a great sub to be able to bring on"
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce
"Our players are bitterly disappointed"
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