STEVEN Davis thought it was only a matter of time before Saints scored – until Cardiff City stunned St Mary’s.

Saints endured an afternoon of frustration against a Cardiff side that arrived at St Mary’s with the worst away record in the Premier League, having conceded 12 goals in their previous three games.

“We were very comfortable in the game and it seemed like only a matter of time before we made the breakthrough, but it’s always dangerous if the other team gets a chance,” said Davis. “I think we played generally quite well. We moved the ball well, had a lot of possession and created a lot of chances, but we didn’t do enough in front of goal before they got the first one.”

Some fine saves by David Marshall and Juan Cala’s dramatic winner have given Cardiff hope of pulling off the sort of Great Escape that was Saints’ speciality during the 1990’s.

“It was only a half-chance but it’s a tremendous strike and unfortunately we couldn’t do enough to claw ourselves back into the game,” Davis continued.

“The first goal was always going to be very important, especially with how Cardiff were set up for the game. They were sat very deep to make life difficult for us, which they did.

“We struggled to get through them and the first goal was all-important.”

The injured Jay Rodriguez, who scored two of his 17 goals for the season at Cardiff on Boxing Day, was conspicuous by his absence as he looked down from the stands.

“You have to give credit to Cardiff for the way that they defended,” said Davis. “Their keeper pulled off some good saves, particularly one from [Nathaniel] Clyne in the second half which I think was going in.”

Saints now have four games to secure their place in the top eight, which would equal their highest league finish for 11 years; at Aston Villa on Saturday with a trip to Swansea sandwiched between the last two home games against Everton and Manchester United.

“We’ve shown the demands we’ve placed on each other to drive this club forward in every game this season and we’ll continue to play and train in that way,” added Davis.