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Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 15:56 GMT
Beattie floors Fulham
Southampton striker James Beattie
Beattie has rediscovered the goalscoring art
Southampton 4-2 Fulham

A James Beattie hat-trick ensured Southampton maintained their steady start to the season after Gordon Strachan's side mounted an impressive salvage operation.

With just 25 minutes gone Fulham were two goals ahead through strikes from Lee Clark and Steed Malbranque.

But soon after the Frenchman's goal, Beattie reduced the deficit from the penalty spot and a header from the Southampton striker just before half time levelled the score.

  Key incidents
15 mins: Lee Clark gives Fulham the lead
25 mins: Steed Malbranque doubles Fulham's advantage
27 mins: James Beattie scores from the spot
42 mins: Beattie's header hauls Fulham level
52 mins: Beattie completes his hat-trick
72 mins: Brett Ormerod calmly adds a fourth Southampton goal
Having only scored his first goal of the season in Monday's win at Aston Villa, Beattie completed his hat-trick on 53 minutes with another header.

Brett Ormerod made the game safe and cemented his place in the Southampton side with his third Premiership goal of the season.

In difficult windy conditions the teams served up an enjoyable game, though much of the defending on show would not have been out of place in a circus ring.

The slapstick element reached a peak soon after the restart when a Fabrice Fernandes shot was deflected off Rufus Brevett's back, almost allowing Beattie to head home.

Clark's goal came in similar circumstances.

Southampton's James Beattie watches as Lee Clark gives Fulham the lead
Clark played his first game in 10 months
The midfielder - making his first start since recovering from a serious Achilles injury - dispossessed Anders Svensson and raced towards the Southampton box.

He quickly released a shot, which richocheted off Michael Svensson's back, leaving Antti Niemi stranded as the ball looped into the net.

More poor Southampton defending led to Fulham's second.

Steve Finnan and Steve Marlet linked well on the right, but when the defender crossed there were plenty of defenders to deal with the danger.

Inexplicably, the Southampton rearguard chose to ball-watch as Malbranque ghosted in to stroke his shot past Niemi.

Not that defensive gremlins were only occurring in the Southampton penalty area.

The Saints had already had one handball claim - against Finnan - turned down before referee Mark Halsey ruled that Alain Goma had handled Brett Ormerod's cross.

Beattie scored from the spot, just as he had done against Villa.

And after going close with a couple of headers, Beattie slipped away from Zat Knight in the 42nd minute to guide Fernandes' home.

The pick of Beattie's three goals was his third when he rose magnificently - unmarked - to flick Anders Svensson's free-kick past Van der Sar.

The home side were now in control and Ormerod's sixth goal in three games, which followed good work by Chris Marsden, made the game safe.

Southampton: Niemi, Bridge, Michael Svensson, Lundekvam, Dodd, Marsden, Oakley, Anders Svensson, Fernandes, Beattie, Ormerod (Delgado 79). Subs Not Used: Jones, Telfer, Williams, Tessem.
Booked: Michael Svensson.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Goma, Knight (Ouaddou 59), Brevett, Clark, Djetou (Hayles 63), Malbranque, Legwinski, Boa Morte, Marlet. Subs Not Used: Taylor, Melville, Stolcers.
Booked: Boa Morte, Goma.

Attendance: 26,188

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

BBC Five Live's Ian Brown
"Beattie was the star turn"
Saints striker James Beattie
"I hope I can keep scoring"
Fulham's Lee Clark
"Southampton were worthy winners"
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