Alan Pardew admitted Saints were distracted by their upcoming Wembley final as they defeated Hartlepool 3-2 at St Mary’s.
The win cut the gap on the top six by another two points, meaning Saints are now looking at making up 11 points in their final nine games.
But it wasn’t without a few problems as a slow start saw Hartlepool take the lead.
Pardew said: “The result pleased me more than anything because we took our eye off the ball and you can’t do that.
“It’s a big game for a lot of these young players on Sunday but as much as we tried to get it out of their minds it wasn’t.
“The players that have been there and done it stood up a little bit – Fonte is a top player and you would think he was playing the semi-final of the Cup against Liverpool with his attitude.
“Some of the players took their eye off the ball, not a lot, just ten per cent, but it was enough to put in a performance that was a little disjointed, just not quite right.
“Tactically we set up with a different system and I made a mistake.
“There were a lot of errors but the most important thing for us was we won.”
For full story and reaction to last night's 3-2 win over Hartlepool don't miss today's Daily Echo.