We love Free-kick Friday! This week it’s the turn of former Southampton marksman James Beattie, who scored some belters at The Dell, St Mary’s and beyond…
5. Going low against Blackburn
25th October 2003
After a fine start to the 2003/04 campaign, Saints were suddenly struggling for form when they welcomed Blackburn to St Mary’s in late October. The team’s goal drought was clocked at 359 minutes when Beattie lined up a 25-yard free-kick on the hour mark against Rovers. It was 0-0 and Saints had not scored for five weeks, but that was about to change. Beattie proved on a couple of occasions that you don’t have to dip it or curl it to beat a defensive wall, and this time he exploited the smallest gap to find the net. Threading a low shot through the eye of a needle, he scored with a firm side-foot that whistled into the bottom corner to make the breakthrough.
4. Gunning down Arsenal
23rd November 2002
This was one of the standout wins of a successful season for Saints, who achieved a top-eight finish and reached the FA Cup final under Gordon Strachan. Arsenal were the reigning champions and it was no major surprise when the visitors edged in front at St Mary’s through Dennis Bergkamp. But this cracker from Beattie levelled things up on the stroke of half time, laying the foundations for Saints to push on and cause an upset. Positioned 30 yards from goal, the front man called on two teammates to nudge the ball a yard to the right, allowing Beattie to thump it past the wall, sending a low shot skidding out of reach of veteran goalkeeper David Seaman. A second-half penalty from Beattie and a header from Ecuadorian strike partner Agustín Delgado secured a memorable 3-2 victory.
3. Leaving it late at The Dell
4th November 2000
Beattie was without a goal in his last 33 games when Saints welcomed Chelsea to The Dell, having failed to find the net throughout the entire 1999/2000 season, but it was this game that completely transformed the striker’s fortunes in red and white. Beattie ended his long wait with an early opener past Ed de Goey, before Jo Tessem doubled the lead, only for Chelsea to fight back in the second half. Recovering to level the scores, the game was tied at 2-2 when Beattie stood over a long-range free-kick, just right of centre. Relishing the pressure with his confidence restored, he seized his moment with a perfectly-flighted set-piece over the wall. De Goey got a hand to it, couldn’t keep it out, and Saints had three vital points.
2. Chelsea struck down again
1st January 2002
What a way to start the new year this was, as Saints ran riot at Stamford Bridge to put four past Chelsea. It was Beattie who gave them the perfect start, this time adding Carlo Cudicini to his list of dead-ball victims with a stunning opener. It was a long way out, fully 30 yards, but Beattie put it in the one place that was out of reach for Cudicini, as he whipped a powerful shot that curled away from the Italian shot-stopper to find the top corner. Chelsea turned the game on its head to lead at the interval, but back came Saints, as Beattie rounded off a spectacular 4-2 victory after goals from Marian Pahars and Chris Marsden.
1. Haunting Hoddle at White Hart Lane
20th September 2003
It was under Glenn Hoddle that Beattie had rediscovered his goalscoring touch in 2000/01, before the former England boss left to manage Tottenham. Two and a half years into his Spurs tenure, Hoddle was coming under pressure when Saints arrived at White Hart Lane early in the 2003/04 campaign. Beattie had already put the visitors 1-0 up when he lined up a free-kick from a central position shortly before half time. Setting the ball outside Kasey Keller’s left-hand post, he whipped a stunning strike from 30 yards back inside the upright, just underneath the crossbar, to beat the future Saints stopper. Strike partner Kevin Phillips added a third after the break, and Hoddle’s reign at Spurs duly came to an end.