THERE it is, the magic 40-point mark.

It is the milestone that represents safety; a point at which a club are unlikely to be relegated and can safely start planning for Premier League football next season.

It is also the stage when players, with no significant target to hit before the end of the campaign, sometimes dust off the bucket and spade and think about their beach holidays in the summer.

This is no time, however, for Saints to down tools because they are just getting into a new groove.

After a positive week, Saints have now recorded back-to-back league wins for the third time this season and are on one of their best runs of the campaign, having beaten Crystal Palace and West Brom along with a home draw against AFC Bournemouth.

Saints have now won four of their last six games.

And the indication from Saturday’s 1-0 win at the Baggies is that they are not planning on taking their foot off the accelerator pedal, especially with Tony Pulis’ side in their sights.

Saints are four points behind Albion with two games in hand, although they still must play four of the top six in their final eight games.

Claude Puel’s side played some of their best football of the season at The Hawthorns, despite some very notable absentees.

You could have named an entire 11 missing through injury and suspension – with key men Virgil van Dijk, Manolo Gabbiadini, Steven Davis and Oriol Romeu all absent.

But the remaining men produced a display full of spirit and passion which has felt missing at times this term.

It seemed something has got the fire burning in the Saints bellies.

It’s unfortunate in many ways that momentum like this did not start earlier in the top-flight season.

After an almost empty March – with just two games to speak of – this past week has really stoked the fires of the campaign.

Yes, there’s no scrap for relegation and, no, there’s not a realistic chance of breaking into the Europa League spots.

But Saints can bypass the Baggies and that would be one hell of a finish considering all that has happened this season – from the Europa League campaign to the EFL Cup run.

It was one of the finest performances under Puel at West Brom, in what was a really meaningful game for both sides.

Saints knew they could blow the battle for eighth wide open with a victory and West Brom, who have seen their form go downhill since reaching the magic 40 points, had to prove they were still in the fight.

There were nerve-shredding moments at the back late on as Saints held on with their finger tips to bag victory, but those final throes did yield the best saves of Fraser Forster’s up and down campaign.

The towering goalkeeper has not been at his sharpest this season by any means, but the reaction saves to first deny Craig Dawson deep into stoppage time from point blank range and then to tip away Jonny Evans’ effort from a corner were simply world class.

Forster made a great early save too, denying James Morrison from a rasping low effort on 20 minutes as well as a full stretch save to tip away Salomon Rondon’s back post header from Nacer Chadli’s deep cross.

There was another brave moment to halt substitute James McClean’s sprint, as he slapped the ball away when it awkwardly bounced in the box.

Then, there was captain for the day, Maya Yoshida.

He was excellent alongside Jack Stephens and together the centre-back pair threw back most things West Brom gave to them.

Rondon, who was looking for his first goal in 16 league games, was left mightily frustrated, while returning creator Matt Phillips was also well shackled by the Saints defence.

In fact, Phillips, on his first start in nearly two months after recovering from a persistent hamstring injury, was restricted to just glimmers of his skills and was substituted just past the hour mark.

The Saints centre-back duo may have been slightly more exposed at points without the suspended Romeu, but that only allowed them to demonstrate further how far their partnership has come in Van Dijk’s absence and since Jose Fonte’s exit.

With Romeu banned and Davis injured it was down to peripheral duo Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Jordy Clasie to command the centre of the park in midfield.

There were many doubters over the pair’s credentials in the engine room of Saints’ 4-2-3-1 formation, but they were virtually faultless there.

With Puel recently calling all his men to score more, Clasie, on his first start in seven matches, answered his manager’s call on 25 minutes.

It was a well constructed move, with pantomime villain for the day Shane Long, who seemed to relish winding up his former club’s fans, making a direct run just inside the area.

The Irishman then passed to Dusan Tadic who, with his back to goal, held up the ball and rolled it out to Clasie.

The Dutchman lined it up and cracked a shot with his right foot which would be still travelling at the speed of a bullet train somewhere if it wasn’t for the net.

It was also another superb performance by Tadic, who is hitting new heights in form at the moment. The 28-year-old playmaker is often blighted by inconsistency and has been known for going missing during the winter months.

But, like some kind of Serbian spring flower, he’s blossoming in the latter stages of the campaign.

His assist on Saturday was his fifth of the league season and his fourth since early February.

Tadic nearly added to his three goals for the campaign late on, but his curling effort flew narrowly over the bar.

Nathan Redmond on the left is another man hitting his stride. He was full of scurrying runs and ideas. A real bright spark.

He also curled a couple of shots at goal, including one effort on the volley that was very well-taken from Cedric’s cross, but Ben Foster was equal to it.

Long meanwhile acted as the thorn in the side of West Brom, everything he did seemed to wind up The Hawthorns faithful more and more.

The 30-year-old, who spent three years at the Baggies between 2011-2014, won a penalty for Hull on his first game back as an opponent and has been disliked ever since.

But it only seemed to help Long in his usual role as nuisance-maker. He had buckets of energy, but as has been so often the case this term, the finishing touch was not present.