SAINTS legend Jim Steele insists Jay Rodriguez should not be labelled a cheat following the controversial penalty at Villa Park.

The former Southampton centre-half, man of the match in the 1976 FA Cup final, believes Rodriguez has been harshly criticised for the tumble.

He said: “Rodriguez was only pulling out of the challenge he saw coming in, it would have been a penalty anyway and he could have got injured if he carried on.

“It was definitely a penalty, it’s only when you see the slow-motion replay that you can see there was no contact – but it was still the right decision.

“Rodriguez was travelling at high speed and got out of the way, but that doesn’t make it less of a foul.

“It’s the same with Gareth Bale, he’s getting a bad reputation but when he’s travelling so fast you can’t blame him for trying to avoid challenges that could seriously injure him.

“If it was Ashley Young it would be forgotten about by now. Young’s the worst culprit, he’s gone down like a sack of spuds two or three times this season.

“It’s unfair on Rodriguez to be compared to him.”

What do other ex-Saints think? Full story in today's Daily Echo