The midfielder’s fourth goal of the season separated the sides at St Mary’s and capped another impressive performance from the 26-year-old.
Puncheon appeared to be on his way out of Saints a year ago, but resolved differences he had with the club and has now become an integral part of the first-team.
“He’s good, he’s matured, he’s had a good pre-season with us, he’s come back, it’s a fresh start if you like and he’s grasped it with both hands,” said Adkins.
“It just shows how if you work very hard, adapt to the culture you’re surrounded with, and grow and mature – and he’s done that.”
Saints fully deserved their win, and Adkins admitted the margin of victory should have been greater.
“I thought we dominated the game, I thought we were worthy winners,” he said. “The amount of chances we created, we should have put a few more in the back of the net.
“We played a good tempo of football, a variety of attacks and it was a good 1-0 victory for us.”