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Saints 2 Bristol City 0
SAINTS not only delivered three vital points but, just as importantly, a belief that they do have what it takes to stay up.
Their performance against the Championship high-fliers was nothing short of remarkable.
This time last week, you would have been forgiven for wondering where the next goal was coming from, let alone the next win.
Against City, it was like watching a completely different Saints team.
While the players will no doubt steal the headlines, a large amount of the credit must go to Nigel Pearson.
This display not only underlined that the majority of fans who have taken to him and believe he can save the team are correct, but also suggested he has what it takes to move Saints forward next season.
The fact he has got Saints playing again with a side that featured three of his own signings and not just what he was left with suggests he has an eye for building a team.
In among all the off-field talk and the boardroom changes that will take place at the end of the season, Pearson's position will undoubtedly be called into question.
However, on the evidence of what we have seen so far, any decision to change manager would not only be harsh but downright unfair.
Pearson has placed increasing importance on trying to give his Saints side a solid base.
While he has made mistakes, the loan signings of Richard Wright and, in particular, Chris Perry and Chris Lucketti, point to a manager who very much knows what he's doing.
Having been spared the mental battering that has come with being a Saints player this season, they are here to do a job.
They of course want to impress themselves, but their experience and calmness in a pressure situation is so obvious to see.
Perry is all about composure and knowing where to be and when to be there. Lucketti is all aggression and determination.
They may only be at St Mary's for the short term but they are a base on which Saints can build their survival hopes.
Every fan leaving St Mary's at the weekend would have done so with renewed hope and optimism after one of Saints' best performances of the season.
They quite simply blew Bristol City away.
We should point out that City, somehow top, were truly dreadful.
Every team has an off day but what it underlined again was the indifferent quality of the Championship league this season.
Saints absolutely flew out of the traps and put City immediately on the backfoot.
Inigo Idiakez twice tested Adriano Basso with 25-yard free kicks, while the City keeper would have been beaten on three other occasions had Saints managed to hit the target.
Tellingly, all the efforts came as a result of Saints getting the ball out wide and delivering quality crosses.
Bradley Wright-Phillips was the first to miss, his near-post header from Mario Licka's ball after a terrific run across his man.
Stern John was next up, controlling Gregory Vignal's cross on his chest but volleying wide from eight yards out.
Finally, it was Idiakez who steered a header wide from Jermaine Wright's ball in.
Missed chances often come back to haunt you, but Saints got the lead they deserved on 35 minutes.
Euell won a header in the area that he looped high towards the far post, where John reacted first to volley home from close range.
City made a double change at half- time but again it was Saints doing the pressing - and missing more chances.
On 69 minutes, Wright-Phillips burst away down the left and cut the ball back into the path of Licka but his sidefooted effort was turned wide by Basso.
Vincent Pericard squared to Wright-Phillips with seven minutes left but again the City keeper saved, as he did from Wright- Phillips' low drive moments later.
But Saints put the game to bed with six minutes remaining.
Pericard's close-range header was brilliantly saved by Basso but Euell reacted first to stab home.
It could have been even more with Wright-Phillips rounding the keeper but running the ball out of play and Basso making another terrific stop, this time from Pericard's header.
But, while the goal difference could have been improved, the three points - and the rightly increased confidence in Saints' ability to avoid the drop - was as much as anyone could have hoped for.