This was Southampton’s first season at the newly built St Mary’s Stadium but coming into this match Saints were still looking for their first point at the venue, as well as their first goal, and were in the relegation places. Villa by contrast were unbeaten but had drawn three of their four games so were in mid-table.
The visitors were quick out of the traps and before the match was fifteen minutes old, they held a two goal lead with George Boateng and Juan Pablo Angel on the mark. On the stroke of half-time, though, the home side were back in it as Marian Pahars struck to break the St Mary’s goal-scoring duck.
The Saints’ comeback was made all the more difficult after Rory Delap was sent off for a professional foul on 52 minutes but it was all-square in terms of dismissals just five minutes after that as Dion Dublin received his marching orders following a clash with El Khalej.
The introduction of Matt Le Tissier twelve minutes from time lifted the home crowd but before he had time to make an impact, the visitors sealed all three points through Mustapha Hadji.
The defeat left Southampton bottom of the table but they recovered as the campaign progressed and finished in eleventh spot on 45 points, just five behind Villa.