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Wednesday, August 5, 2009
FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT Saints v Millwall countdown
Morison out to make name for himself
Omens are not good HISTORY will almost certainly be against Saints when the curtain lifts on the 2009/10 League One campaign this weekend. That’s because the club have only won once on the opening day in the last two decades! The sole first day success came against Gordon Strachan’s Coventry in 1999. Egil Ostenstad’s goal gave Dave Jones’ men a 1-0 win at Highfield Road in a game which marked Dean Richards’ competitive debut for Saints. The last time Saints won at home on the opening day of a season was back in 1988/89 when Chris Nicholl’s side thumped West Ham 4-0 at The Dell.
BACK IN THE BIG TIME: Steve Morison will play his first Football League game for five years at St Mary’s.
EGIL OSTENSTAD By Simon Peach firstname.lastname@example.org For up-to-the-minute sport – dailyecho.co.uk
PLUCKED from nonleague, this is the man who will be aiming to shoot Millwall to victory against Saints this weekend. His name is Steve Morison and he has a licence to score. Few will be familiar with the hitman, which isn’t too surprising as this is the first time he has played in the Football League for nearly five years. But don’t be fooled, this man is a sharp shooter. Last season alone he scored 27 league goals for Stevenage, finishing top scorer in the Conference National.
Full circle And if he can hone his non-league scoring abilities for League One, then Millwall may have pulled off the transfer coup of the summer. The £130,000 they shelled out for the man with two Wembley cup medals to his name in recent years will be money well spent if the Lions can improve on last season’s League One play-off final. But that is a big if. Morison has not played in the Football League since leaving
Former Stevenage man out to impress on League return Northampton in 2004, the club he started his career at. Ironically, the last time Morison played for them was against Saints, coming off the bench in a 3-0 defeat at home to Steve Wigley’s men in the League Cup in September 2004. Now his career has come a full circle. He will make his Millwall debut against Saints this weekend, spearheading the Lions attack after moving from Broadhall Way. It is a fairytale ending to what has been a turbulent, yet prolific, journey back. After leaving Northampton, Morison, then aged 21, ended up in the footballing backwater of Bishop’s Stortford, where he stayed for two seasons, scoring hatfuls of goals in the Conference South. His performances for Stortford earned him a move to Stevenage, where he was equally prolific. Three successful years at
Broadhall Way saw him rack up 67 league goals in 127 appearances. But his finest hours have been reserved for Wembley – scoring the winner in the FA Trophy in both 2007 and 2009. This form was enough to persuade Millwall manager Kenny Jackett to loosen the purse strings to sign the Enfield-born striker, who had become a big fish at Borough. “He had outgrown Stevenage and he should do well at Millwall,” said Mark Armstrong, Stevenage reporter for the club’s local newspaper, the Comet.
Better service “He has proven he can score plenty of goals and should be able to do even better with better service. “But it’s up to him to step up.” Morison knows he has to make the two-division step-up. And there is no bigger step in
League One than an opening game of the season at St Mary’s, live on Sky. “I’m used to going to the Barrows away and playing in front of 1,000 people,” Morison recently admitted.” It will all be massive to me but what an exciting first fixture. “Not only is it against Southampton and it being down at St Mary’s, but it is on TV. “It’s the first league game of the season to be shown – it’s fantastic and a great buzz. If you can’t get out of bed with a smile on your face ready for that then there is something wrong with you.”
Direct player Morison – whose only pre-season goals for the Lions came with a double strike in a 2-1 win at his former club Stevenage last week – is a direct player but fairly quick for a target man. Pace is something he has had to work on, though. At Stevenage he worked with a speed coach last season at the request of the manager. That paid dividends and now he’ll hope his move to League One does too. Speed will again be of the essence, as Morison – who is expected to partner Gary Alexander at St Mary’s with veteran Neil Harris proving a goal threat from the bench – needs to prove quickly that he is canny enough to adapt to the gulf in class of the defenders.
Focus on the squad and the League One season ONLY IN THIS SATURDAY’S DAILY ECHO
16-page Saints special
Paul Rideout scored twice on his debut with Glenn Cockerill and sub Matt Le Tissier also on target in front of 18,407.
OPENING DAY WOE – 1989-2008 89/90: Millwall (H) . . . . . L 90/91: Aston Villa (A) . . . D 91/92: Tottenham (H) . . . L 92/93: Tottenham (H) . . D 93/94: Everton (H) . . . . . L 94/95: Blackburn (H) . . . D 95/96: Notts Forest (H) . L 96/97: Chelsea (H) . . . . D 97/98: Bolton (H) . . . . . . L 98/99: Liverpool (H) . . . . L 99/00: Coventry (A) . . . W 00/01: Derby (A) . . . . . . D 01/02: Leeds (A) . . . . . . L 02/03: Middlesboro (H) . D 03/04: Leicester (A) . . . . D 04/05: Aston Villa (A) . . . L 05/06: Wolves (H) . . . . . D 06/07: Derby (A) . . . . . . D 07/08: C Palace (H) . . . . L 08/09: Cardiff (A) . . . . . . L P 20
TOTAL L 10
1-2 1-1 2-3 0-0 0-2 1-1 3-4 0-0 0-1 1-2 1-0 2-2 0-2 0-0 2-2 0-2 0-0 2-2 1-4 1-2 A 31
Jaidi deal set to be sealed SAINTS were today hoping to clinch the signing of defender Radhi Jaidi. They had been confident of completing the deal for the centre half who has been released by Birmingham yesterday. Meanwhile, Saints fans will be able to get their hands on the club’s new away kit for the forthcoming season for the first time today. The distinctive new midnight blue and yellow strip will go on sale at the club’s megastore and West Quay shop from 9am this morning. The kit will also be available via the online store and mail order hotline on 0845 688 9433.