EVERTON 1 - SAINTS 0

IN THE THICK OF IT: Leon Best beats Alan Stubbs watched by fellow debutant Dexter Blackstock.

IN THE THICK OF IT: Leon Best beats Alan Stubbs watched by fellow debutant Dexter Blackstock.

First published in 04-05 Season Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Writer

STEVE WIGLEY must have done something very wrong in a previous life.

He's such a nice chap it's hard to imagine what that could have been, but there seems to be no logical explanation for the luck Saints are getting right now.

Just when you think things can't get much worse, that no more bad luck or injuries could possibly occur, they do.

Sure, every team has injuries - but to have out the kind of players Saints were missing at the weekend is almost incredible.

James Beattie, Kevin Phillips, Peter Crouch, Marian Pahars, Matt Oakley, Jason Dodd, Michael Svensson, Yoann Folly, Claus Lundekvam, Graeme Le Saux - all ten of those players could easily be in the starting line-up if the squad was fully fit.

Now Saints wait with trepidation to see if Brett Ormerod will return from his loan spell fully fit - surely not another one?

The problem Wigley has is that he has to live with these injuries and find a way to get on and win games anyway.

Most of the problems will not go away with a couple of days rest and Saints can't wait much longer before they win their next game.

Therefore, with the resources he has at his disposal, Wigley HAS to find a way of getting them playing together as a winning team.

And it's for that reason that you worry that Saturday's defeat at Everton might have knocked some of the remaining stuffing out of the team.

Against all odds, with all those injuries and Everton flying so high, Saints battled and got so close to a point.

It wasn't always pretty but it would have been a good result coming away from Goodison Park with a point.

So, after all that effort and all that sweat and application to concede a goal with two minutes remaining must have felt like a kick where it hurts most.

As for Wigley, outside he is painting a picture of realism, of knowing that he needs that win and he'll have to get it with what's left.

But inwardly he must be wondering what on earth he has to do to get a break, a bit of luck.

He can only believe that if the team keep working as hard as they did at Everton, that things will come good.

There's no guarantee that they will, but he and players have to keep believing.

Otherwise they have no chance.

The one positive about Saints under Wigley is that he's made them hard to beat again.

Against Everton they had an impressive and disciplined shape.

Across the midfield four and the defence there was a solidity in defence and the start of some fluidity in attack - particularly from Anders Svensson and the occasionally kamikaze but very exciting Jelle van Damme, who adds an extra dimension to the team. The problem comes when they have to create chances or take the game to the opposition, as they will be expected to do against Birmingham at St Mary's next Sunday.

Leon Best and Dexter Blackstock, the two 18-year-olds up front, battled hard on their first-team debuts.

They fought well but the superior Premiership experience of David Weir and Alan Stubbs showed in the way they eased them off the ball or away from goal. But they are good players and they will learn from this experience.

Andreas Jakobsson is also proving a massive signing right now, holding together an unfamiliar defence.

Saints never looked like scoring a goal to win the game against Everton, but they also looked like they could keep a clean sheet.

The Toffees are very reminiscent of Saints in their FA Cup final season.

They are strong at the back and able to just pick off one goal in order to win a game.

In this case it was from Leon Osman, who found the ball break to him in the Saints area from a long throw on 88 minutes He turned and buried his shot across Antti Niemi and into the far corner.

Marcus Bent had occasionally threatened as well, as had the superb Thomas Gravesen, but Saints looked decent value for their point - though they never really tested Nigel Martyn in pursuit of all three.

That Everton winner was a sickener, deflating and demoralising.

But Saints cannot, simply cannot, afford to feel sorry for themselves.

They have had terrible luck but they have to win now.

Against the odds, they have to do it.

A bit of luck and maybe they will.

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