Russell Martin believes win at West Brom was Southampton’s best of season

By Sports Desk February 16, 2024

Boss Russell Martin hailed Southampton’s 2-0 victory at West Brom as their best win of the season.

Ryan Fraser and David Brooks fired the Saints back into second in the Championship on Friday.

They are a point ahead of Leeds, 11 adrift of leaders Leicester, after hitting back following the end of a club record 25-game unbeaten run on Tuesday.

The Saints escaped when Jack Stephens’ handball in the box in first-half injury time went unpunished with the Baggies’ frustrations boiling over after boss Carlos Corberan was dismissed for misconduct just seven minutes in for kicking the ball while it was still in play.

But Martin believes his side proved their worth after Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Bristol City.

He said: “It’s our best win of the season. After Tuesday the questions were asked, those watching – the teams in hotels – people at home were looking to see how the team responded and they were amazing. It’s a big moment for us.

“The aggression was through the roof compared to Tuesday. When I watched back Tuesday I felt worse about it than after the game. I didn’t make a big enough deal about being aggressive and that was a hangover from Saturday.

“Away from home we’ve been really good on the whole. The fans have been amazing, we lost 3-1 we didn’t play very well and they were clapping us right to the end. Hopefully tonight shows the guys are really up for the fight.”

Southampton dominated from the start and, after Corberan was dismissed, took a 14th-minute lead when on-loan Newcastle winger Fraser volleyed in Stuart Armstrong’s centre following a short corner.

Yet, despite their superiority, the Saints failed to add to their lead before the break which allowed Albion to threaten a comeback.

John Swift drilled wide and the hosts were furious after their penalty claims were snubbed when Conor Townsend’s shot hit Stephens’ arm in first-half injury time.

The hosts, though, were unable to recover and Brooks wrapped up the points with 17 minutes left when he drilled in after an incisive move involving Joe Aribo, Armstrong and Sam Edozie cut the Baggies open.

Gavin Bazunu turned Okay Yokuslu’s free header over soon after and, with it, went their hopes.

Defeat for the Baggies – who remain fifth – spoilt Thursday’s news Florida-based businessman Shilen Patel’s takeover is due to be finalised next week.

“There’s a lot of positivity around the takeover. Hopefully we can use that in the last 14, 15 games to push ourselves into the play-offs,” said Townsend, with Corberan unable to speak to the press after his red card.

“We’re disappointed to lose, we’ve come into it on the back on some good home form.

“In the end it looks comprehensive but when we’re on top we need to take our chances. We felt one big decision didn’t go our way.

“From the ref’s angle it (the penalty) seems to be a difficult one to give, he’s looking through bodies, but that’s what the linesman is for, to help. We’re disappointed but we had chances, we can’t say it was the ref’s fault we didn’t score.”

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