Martin delighted with "brilliant performance"

2023-24/Matchdays/20240416 Southampton vs Preston North End/IF_Southampton_Preston_068_gb7xdc

Russell Martin praised “a brilliant performance”, with and without the ball, as Southampton swept aside Preston at St Mary’s.

By his own admission, the manager was not satisfied with Saturday’s dramatic late victory over Watford, but was delighted with the response of his players, as Stuart Armstrong added to Ché Adams’s first-half brace, with Saints scoring all three goals in the opening 33 minutes.

The win moves Saints within four points of second-placed Leicester, who Saints face at the King Power Stadium next Tuesday following this weekend’s trip to Cardiff.

“I thought it was a brilliant performance,” Martin reflected. “Both sides of the game – some beautiful football, beautiful courage to play football, and then aggression, relentless running, desire to fight and win the ball and run for your teammate.

“I loved a lot about it and I’m really proud of the players, so I’m really delighted.

“They played together, they played with feeling, they played with connection and real courage, and that’s all you can ever ask.

“I feel like we’re trying to play in the hardest way, but when it comes right – for us as a coaching staff and hopefully the players as well – it’s the best way to feel on the pitch when you’re the team that’s in charge.

“You look around and you know guys want to take the ball and want to run for each other, and that’s a beautiful thing. However you’re going to play, you need that, and we brought that tonight. But we need to keep going, otherwise it will be pointless.

“It wasn’t enough on Saturday. I didn’t sleep very well after that game, despite the euphoria of the last-minute win. I wasn’t happy with a lot of it, but tonight is the opposite, but it’s still my job and our job as a coaching staff to go away, look at the stuff we can still do better and make sure we bring that on Saturday.

“I was miserable on Saturday and I shouldn’t have been. The guys found a way to win and the feeling was brilliant, and I apologised to them for that because I should’ve let them enjoy it a bit more than they did because winning in this league is tough, and doing what we’re doing with two points a game is incredible and I’m grateful to them.”

Adams’s first-half double, assisted by Adam Armstrong and David Brooks, took his goal tally to 17 for the season, 14 of which have come in his last 24 Saints appearances.

“Ché’s in an amazing place, Brooksy’s best game for us tonight and Arma does what he does – he’s just so consistent, another assist and he’s a top, top player who runs so much for his team,” Martin added. “They all played well tonight.”

Viewing this page on a mobile device? Download the Saints app for all the latest news, feature videos and interactive content to get you closer to the action!

Open the Saints app today!