Russell Martin was proud that Southampton found a new way to win as they extended their unbeaten run to eight matches with a 2-1 victory over West Brom.
Will Smallbone and Adam Armstrong’s strikes maintained Saints’ promotion push, but it came in a much scrappier style than Martin would have liked.
The Baggies dominated the second half, equalised through Kyle Bartley and could have led but Darnell Furlong’s header came back off the crossbar.
Saints boss Martin said: “It was a different win to those we’ve had previously.
“I just said to the players it was built on character, spirit and togetherness. The energy from the crowd was amazing as well. It was that rather than dominance and control.
“They are one of the best teams we’ve played. I have so much respect for Carlos (Corberan). They make it seriously difficult for you. They have a lot of power and athleticism.
“In the second half the momentum swung and we were too untidy on the ball. Their goal was coming, we weren’t good enough in that period.
“We wanted the chance to fall to Adam, with his finishing abilities and mentalities.
“I enjoyed watching my players play and fight for each other. It is a big difference to the way we defended the goal at the start of the season.
“I can’t be entirely pleased with the performance but I can be proud of the way we won in a different way.
“I think the fans are now understanding the team and I hope they are starting to enjoy it. They stuck with it through a tough period.”
Saints took the lead in the fifth minute when Stuart Armstrong cut back to Adam Armstrong from the byline. His shot was saved but the rebound fell to Smallbone to convert from close range.
Conor Townsend thought he had cleared off the line but the goal-line technology confirmed West Brom had conceded the first goal in a match for the first time since September.
The visitors equalised after banging at the door for an extended spell. Brandon Thomas-Asante powered a header from Jed Wallace’s cross, with centre-back Bartley following up to bundle over the line for his second of the season.
The momentum continued when Townsend’s wicked cross was attacked by Darnell Furlong and crashed against the crossbar.
But Adam Armstrong went straight up the other end to calmly pull down Ryan Fraser’s cross and finish.
With Jan Bednarek suspended, Mason Holgate was given a rare start and Martin said: “Mason gave a brilliant performance today.
“Mason has had to wait for his opportunities. I put him in too early and he’s bounced back perfectly. The crowd were brilliant to give him man of the match.”
West Brom boss Corberan thought his side deserved a point for their second-half endeavour.
“I am not happy because we didn’t win,” he said. “We need to keep growing and attack better in their box and defend better in our box.
“If you analyse the way we play you will see how well we played in the second half. The volume of attack in the second half was more than the first.
“The fair result would have been a point for both teams.
“Every time we have lost the game before the international break but we have improved afterwards. If we can have those good performances as standard then we can be a competitive team.
“We need to do it against every type of opponent.
“We needed to be perfect today against a team like Southampton. We weren’t perfect in the first half and we weren’t perfect in finishing in the second half or how we defended their winner.
“We are frustrated because we go home with nothing.”