Off The Mark: How Forest Keeper Crossley Ruined Le Tissier’s Penalty Run

On this day in 1993, Southampton's Matt Le Tissier missed the only penalty of his competitive career
07:00, 24 Mar 2023

There are few players in English football who can boast as good a record from the penalty spot than Southampton’s Matthew Le Tissier; but on March 24th, 1993, he proved he was human after all.

In a 16-year career for the Saints, he took 48 penalties and scored 47 of them and his stunningly high ratio makes him one of the most deadly marksmen from 12-yards.

Having arrived in Southampton from the Channel Islands on the Youth Training Scheme in 1985, Le Tissier turned professional the following year, making his debut in a 4-3 defeat to Norwich. 


But he announced himself properly in a Littlewoods Cup third-round replay at home to Manchester United that November, less than a month after his 18th birthday, scoring twice as the Saints dumped United out of the competition in emphatic style.

He made the last of his 540 appearances for Southampton in January 2002 – the only club the mercurial talent played for in his senior career - and though he never won a trophy or finished higher than seventh - his 209 goals made him a legend on the south coast and beyond. 

So it’s saying something that the only blemish on an almost perfect playing career came when Southampton met Nottingham Forest at The Dell in the inaugural season of the Premier League as they faced a relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest side who were fighting for their lives.

When Carl Tyler was adjudged to have tugged back Nicky Banger in the box, few would have predicted what would happen next as Le Tissier confidently ran up and hit the ball to ‘keeper Mark Crossley’s right.

However, the man who had thwarted Gary Lineker from the spot in the 1990 FA Cup final was up to the job once more, pushing the ball away and although the rebound fell to the taker, in his surprise he was only able to blaze it over the bar.

The Saints superstar would make amends by beating Crossley from much longer range later on in the game with a spectacular left-footed volley, but it proved to be little more than a consolation as the hosts were beaten thanks to goals from Nigel Clough and Roy Keane in a 2-1 defeat.

“If you watch Matt Le Tissier’s run up to a football, it very rarely changed because he was that good at changing which way he was going to actually put the ball,” Crossley later revealed. 

“If you see the penalty I actually feign to go to my left, then came back across right. It is probably one of the few penalties he didn’t stick right in the corner. 

“He is arguably the best penalty taker, so you can imagine how proud I am that that is never ever going to be beaten and can never ever be taken away from me.”

That was Le Tissier’s third penalty as a Premier League player, after scoring the previous two he took in the competition and he would never miss in the English top-flight again, with his next 23 successfully dispatched.

A rare blip from an otherwise deadly dead-ball specialist who successfully converted 47 of 48 competitive spot kicks in his career and the 25 which came in the Premier League puts him in good company.

He lies sixth on the list of all-time penalty scorers in the competition’s history since its creation in 1992; behind Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Harry Kane and Mark Noble.

Though none of those can touch his incredible success rate of 96.2 percent with former Manchester City man, Yaya Toure, the only retired Premier League player to boast a 100 percent record having converted all 11 of his top-flight kicks and 15 in total.

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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