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SAINTS 1 - PARMA 0
12:07pm Monday 22nd May 2006 in 03-04 Season
The heat took its toll as Saints finished off their pre-season friendly programme with an energy-sapping 1-0 win over Parma.
Just over 15,000 fans gave up laying in their gardens for the greenhouse heat of St Mary's on Saturday afternoon but it was just as draining on the players as the spectators.
The first half was a reasonably high tempo affair which Saints had the better of but in the second period the energy had quite clearly been sapped from their legs and it was a pretty drab 45 minutes.
For their part, Italian Serie A side Parma put on a decent showing and improved after half time, slowing the game down in a manner that Saints will have to become accustomed to dealing with if they are to go far in this season's UEFA Cup.
With James Beattie resting a minor injury to his right ankle, Brett Ormerod and Jo Tessem led the attack and linked up better than they have done before.
Tessem rarely threatened the goal himself but was able to keep his back to it and lay the ball off for teammates.
As early as the first minute Rory Delap was just hustled out when lining up an effort from that source.
In third minute Tessem laid on a chance for Ormerod which he struck well on the half volley but straight at the keeper.
Debutant Neil McCann, who today celebrates his 29th birthday, came close on 17 minutes with a shot that hit the side netting but Saints broke the deadlock only a minute later.
McCann's cross from the left was held up inside the area by Tessem and rolled back into the path of the oncoming Delap.
The Irishman drilled a low shot from 20 yards which flew into the bottom corner.
There were then a couple of moments of danger for Saints when Adriano's header was ruled out for offside and Paul Jones had to get down smartly to stop Hidetoshi Nakata's effort.
But Saints finished the half the stronger as Ormerod almost got a clear sight of goal and Matt Oakley curled a free-kick just over the bar.
After that moment half time came and really there was not a lot more to report.
The sweltering heat had drained everybody and it was too much to ask for a lively second half.
Parma's Brazilian striker Adriano provided the biggest goal threat with two free-kicks.
One was bravely blocked by Anders Svensson while the other was brilliantly held by Jones.
On 66 minutes Adriano's header also needed Jones to deal with it, but that was it for goal action from either side in the second half.
The game was a good workout for Saints but the heat made it far from ideal preparation for the season. In truth, it was just too hot for football.
Gordon Strachan and his men must be looking to the skies and praying that this unseasonally hot weather doesn't last until next week.
Fans of high energy football will be hoping the same.