It’s nine years to the day since Lee Barnard completed a dramatic second-half comeback for Southampton over MK Dons. The striker had a habit of scoring at crucial times – here’s his top five most important Saints goals…
5. Sealing Adkins’s first win
25th September 2010
Saints were without a victory in their last five games – losing four of those – when new manager Nigel Adkins led the team to Hillsborough, hoping to register his first win at the helm. It was Barnard who duly provided it, scoring the only goal of the game just after the hour mark in south Yorkshire. Midfielder Dean Hammond opened up the Sheffield Wednesday defence with a threaded pass for Barnard to take neatly in his path and dink over advancing goalkeeper Nicky Weaver. Those three points lifted Saints out of the relegation zone, sparking a complete transformation in fortunes, as Adkins masterminded promotion to the Championship in his first season.
4. Rescuing a point at Brighton
1st April 2010
Barnard was summoned from the bench to deadly effect at the Withdean Stadium – the scene of more than one late Saints comeback of yesteryear. The penalty-box predator was already proving his worth soon after signing from Southend in January, en route to a career best 26 goals in 2009/10. Goal number 25 came on April Fools’ Day, where Brighton were left feeling the butt of the joke when fellow substitute Papa Waigo pulled the ball back from the byeline for Barnard to sweep home a timely leveller in the final minute of normal time.
3. Leaving it late at Yeovil
17th April 2010
A fortnight later, Barnard was Saints’ super sub again, this time turning one point into three. His 26th and final goal of the season came in the humble surroundings of Huish Park, where Alan Pardew’s visitors had been reduced to 10 men following the second-half dismissal of Morgan Schneiderlin. But Barnard, who replaced Michail Antonio at the interval, ensured Saints kept alive their faint hopes of gatecrashing the League One play-offs in the third minute of stoppage time, rising highest in a crowded penalty area to head home another Papa Waigo cross, sparking jubilant scenes in a packed away end.
2. Off the mark at Norwich
20th February 2010
The first of Barnard’s 23 league goals for Saints, which impressively came from a mere 38 starts, arrived on his sixth appearance for the club, at the home of League One leaders Norwich. The Canaries were unbeaten at Carrow Road in more than six months, a record dating back to the shocking 7-1 reverse they suffered on the opening day against Colchester. Barnard was the man to break the run, however, netting a brace in a fondly-remembered 2-0 success for Saints under Pardew. Alert to head home the rebound after a Rickie Lambert free-kick thundered against the underside of the crossbar, he doubled his tally after some intelligent build-up play from Jason Puncheon.
1. Completing the comeback
2nd April 2011
The only goal in this list to come at St Mary’s, Barnard maintained his immaculate sense of timing to turn the game on its head against MK Dons, on this day in 2011. The revival is perhaps best remembered for the heroics of Jonathan Forte, who arrived from the bench to score twice in two minutes as Saints fought back from 2-0 down. Ten minutes later, Barnard latched on to Lambert’s pass and sent an unstoppable left-footed shot flashing past goalkeeper David Martin to secure an unlikely victory – the first of nine from Saints’ last ten games en route to promotion.