MANAGER Russell Martin praised Mason Holgate's "fantastic" man of the match performance in Saints 2-1 win over West Brom on Saturday.

The 27 year old replaced the suspended Jan Bednarek as Southampton's solitary change for only his fifth appearance of the season.

Holgate made a crucial defensive intervention, heading the ball over as West Brom looked like scoring, to help Saints hold on to their narrow lead.

Asked by the Daily Echo about his side's defensive performance, Martin said: "The guys at the back passed through the press really well.

"I enjoyed watching our players fight for each other. It’s a real difference from where we were at the start of the season with how they defend their goal.

"That’s the thing that wins us the game today. Janny B has been a real conductor with the foundations of us building up from the back.

"I don’t think you can take that out of the team and expect to function in the same way. Mason gave us a brilliant performance today."

Holgate completed the most tackles in the game (three), while also completing 44 of his 48 passes. 

"He has different qualities to Janny B, who has been settled in the team for a long time," Martin continued.

"Mason has had to wait for his opportunity and had a tough start to life here, which was my fault - I put him in too early.

“It’s so different to playing centre-half in any other team that he would have played for before. He has done fantastically well since then, against Preston and today.

"It was good for him to have that today. Now Mason needs to make sure he is ready to keep performing when he gets opportunities in the team at some point.”