Martin delighted but frustrated after Watford win

Live Matchday Images/2023-24/20240413 Southampton vs Watford/106A4570_vedvrj

Russell Martin admitted the euphoria of Southampton’s dramatic stoppage-time win over Watford was tinged with frustration after his side were pegged back at St Mary’s.

Saints flew out of the blocks, racing into a first-minute lead through Will Smallbone’s header and doubling the advantage when Ché Adams tapped in David Brooks’s cutback.

But the Hornets hit back before the interval, and levelled the scores five minutes from time, sparking Saints into life and prompting wild scenes of delight when Flynn Downes pounced to score his first St Mary’s goal nine minutes into added time.

“I’m delighted to win, and I’m proud of the players for the character they showed, but I’m frustrated it took a 97th-minute winner when we were 2-0 up,” Martin said.

“Unfortunately for us, we are having a very, very good season with the amount of points we have, but there is no room to wiggle or manoeuvre and we can’t come off it for a second, and we did when we went 2-0 up.

“I think we still deserved to win and were the best team, and once we went 2-2 again, the intensity and energy – we played with relentless energy, but we can’t drop off that ever. It’s my job to make sure we stay there.

“I said to the players it’s our job not to get really high with the emotion of the last-minute win, which is an amazing feeling for us and the staff and the bench, but we can have that ten times over if we go and achieve what we want to achieve, and we won’t if we come off it.

“The start of the game was amazing, but then we step our foot off. You have to understand the opposition will have a time in the game, but we have to do better when they do, and they score again today.

“We have to do that better. We will analyse that and make sure we improve that for Tuesday, because there was so much good stuff, so I’m really happy but I’m also frustrated.”

Describing the moment Downes decided the day, Martin added: “It’s just pure euphoria and release, seeing a couple of family members in the stand, my uncle and my brother, and seeing people celebrate like mad men was nice on the sideline, but I would rather it didn’t take that.

“They’re an amazing group and they make the opposition work a lot without the ball, but it is down to their character and their desire to win, and I think they believe in what they’re doing – I really hope they do, and I feel they do, and winning late like that shows it.

“It’s been a really difficult period for us because we’ve lost one game in a while, Ipswich, and it was one of our best performances. It’s been so frustrating, but hopefully now we can build some momentum after these two wins and finish the week off really well on Tuesday, in terms of the three home games.”