Do not make Gall the fall guy
DAVID CUFFLEY Defender Gary Doherty sprang to the defence of under-fire goalkeeper Paul Gallacher after the Scotland international was blamed for both goals in Southampton's 2-1 victory over City at St Mary's Stadium.
Defender Gary Doherty sprang to the defence of under-fire goalkeeper Paul Gallacher after the Scotland international was blamed for both goals in Southampton's 2-1 victory over City at St Mary's Stadium.
Gallacher, back in the side after a three-match absence with an ankle injury, was beaten by 17-year-old Gareth Bale's free-kick from 25 yards as the Saints cancelled out Robert Earnshaw's 14th goal of the season with an equaliser five minutes before half-time.
Kenwyne Jones then scored the winner 20 minutes into the second half with a free header after beating the 'keeper at the near post to a corner from Jermaine Wright.
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City boss Peter Grant said he was unhappy with Gallacher's positioning for the free-kick - and said his 'keeper could not dispute that he was at fault for the second goal.
Said Grant: “Gall's been outstanding - it's a good job he's been playing in some games. But he knows he made mistakes today. Probably he'll argue with me about the first one, but he knows he's not going to argue about the second one.”
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Of the free-kick, Grant said: “I thought the positioning of the goalkeeper could probably have been better. I always say when you've got somebody of that talent, you're better standing in the middle of the goal. I don't care if you can't see it. Stand in the middle of the goal because it makes the areas on both sides that bit smaller. I think it's common sense but I've never been a goalkeeper, so they'd probably argue with that.
“If somebody's got that talent, you give him half an inch and he'll put it in there.”
Doherty, returning to the centre of defence after missing four games through injury, said Gallacher had been big enough to admit his error at the corner.
Said Doherty: “Gall's apologised and I've got to mention him, to be fair, because he's been fantastic this season.
“He's obviously disappointed with the goal. It's one mistake and unfortunately it's an important one because they've scored from it, but I've got to mention him because I think he's been outstanding all season.”
Despite peppering the City goal with long-range efforts, Doherty said it was only from dead-ball situations that Southampton had threatened.
“It's a disappointing result. It's two set-pieces again that have killed us. Obviously Bale threatened with a couple of free-kicks and then he put one in the top corner,” he said.
“The lad's accuracy from free-kicks is tremendous. We said we can't be giving away many free-kicks and I think we gave away three and he's nearly put them all in the goal.
“But to be honest, I felt comfortable. I didn't feel we were going to concede from open play. Speaking to the 'keeper, he said he didn't have a shot to save from open play.”
Doherty said City felt aggrieved about the free-kick award that let to Bale's goal, however, after Dickson Etuhu was adjudged to have fouled Rudi Skacel.
“I was annoyed. He got away and had his shot and then the ref's pulled it back. We felt a bit hard done by, especially with them scoring.”
Doherty, yet to score this season, twice went close with headers in the second half.
He said: “I was really disappointed, especially the first one because I saw it a bit late but I should have scored it and it's something I've got to work on, getting goals.”
But he said he felt happy with his fitness after four weeks out of action.
“I feel all right. With ankle injuries all you can do is rest them and then my back started seizing up because all I was doing was going home and resting it, just stuck on the sofa, really. But I'm starting to get on top of it and I'm just hoping I can put all these injuries behind me.”