A TOUGH tackling former Saints star and Awbridge resident has appeared in court charged with assault and threatening to burn down a house.

Mark Dennis, who played at the Dell in the mid-1980s, sat in the dock as his alleged victim gave evidence at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

The retired left-back, 56, is accused of assaulting a woman by chasing her after he had “clenched his fists” – causing her to fear a physical attack.

Dennis, nicknamed “Psycho” for his no-nonsense style of defending, is also charged with threatening to burn down a house.

The former Saints star, who now lives in Church Lane, Awbridge, denies both charges.

Appearing before district judge Peter Greenfield, Dennis spoke only to give his name and address.

He sat and listened to his accuser, who told the court how she had been left “scared” and “upset” by the alleged assault, in November last year.

A witness, also giving evidence, said the alleged incident caused the woman to be sick.

She also spoke about a second incident, which allegedly took place in December.

She said the retired footballer was “drunk” when he allegedly threatened to burn down a house in a heated argument.

But representing Dennis, Julie Macey, said both incidents “did not happen”.

Cross-examining Dennis’s accuser, she said: “These incidents have been blown out of proportion, haven’t they?”

She submitted that the former Saints star had instead “walked away from the situation” on both occasions.

Ms Macey also rubbished claims the retired left-back was drunk at the time of the alleged arson threat.

After hearing from both witnesses, judge Greenfield adjourned the case until later this month.

The ex-footballer will give evidence at the next hearing.

Dennis joined Saints in 1983 after coming through the youth academy at Chelsea and, later, Birmingham City – also making three appearances for England U21s.

The left-back played 95 games in four seasons for Saints, scoring two goals.

Dennis played an important role in the 1983-84 season, alongside the likes of England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and under the stewardship of Saints’ 1976 FA Cup winning manager, Lawrie McMenemy. Dennis went on to play for Crystal Palace and QPR.