RALPH Hasenhuttl is confident Saints haven’t taken a step backwards after they were beaten by West Ham.

Sebastien Haller scored the game’s only goal in the first half to leave the south coast side in the relegation zone.

After drawing against Arsenal, the St Mary’s side went on to beat Watford and Norwich but have now lost their previous two games to Newcastle and the Hammers.

And when asked whether Saints have regressed, Hasenhuttl responded: “I don’t think so.

“It was a very difficult game because we knew this opponent would play a different style and made it difficult to win balls early because they played long balls.

“If they played short, we were sharp, winning balls and playing forward.

“But we didn’t get a lot of these moments. When we got one, we had a good chance to score.

“We had to build it up some more, come behind the lines and try to move the opponent but, in the first half, the speed of the ball wasn’t quick enough.

“The second half was better; we played with a little bit more speed and this was much better.

“In the end, the goal was not there, so we lost a very important game.”

Danny Ings thought he had equalised for Saints in the second half, only for the referee to chalk it off and award a free kick to the visitors.

Saints continued to pile the pressure on the West Ham goal as the game entered the final few minutes but failed to find an equaliser.

“I think it was an important game and not really a good result for us,” added Hasenhuttl.

“I think the chance was there – especially in the second half to take something. We had three or four very good chances to score a goal.

“Ingsy was a little bit unlucky with his finishes.

“We had one chance from Prowsey in the second half, a big one, with his header and we tried a lot in the second half.

“We changed the shape and tried to come on the front foot because in the first half we were having to defend long balls from the opponent.

“It was a tough game, and in the first half we were fighting and investing a lot, but, in the end, we were not able to take something.”