SAINTS climbed into second in the Championship table with a comfortable 2-0 win over bottom Rotherham United.

Jan Bednarek opened the scoring early and Adam Armstrong added his 15th of the season in the 38th minute to make things comfortable.

January signing David Brooks impressed in his cameo debut, showing his skills on the ball and sharp passing. 

Just under 2,500 away fans were sent home happy despite another Viktor Johansson masterclass in the Rotherham net.

Manager Russell Martin returned to the starting XI that helped beat Swansea City 3-1 last time out in the league. 

It meant 200th Saints appearances for both Bednarek and Stuart Armstrong - both key for the St Mary's side this season. 

January signing Brooks was given shirt number 36 and a place in squad after his loan from AFC Bournemouth was confirmed on Tuesday. 

Bednarek gave Saints the perfect start, heading in the second ball from an S Armstrong corner to make it 1-0 inside four minutes. 

Jordan Hugill, goalscorer from the reverse fixture, missed a rare big chance for the home side as he fired over first-time from inside the box.

Ryan Fraser, who was instrumental down the left in Southampton's early dominance, then thumped one off the post after he spotted an opening. 

The Scot would have a decisive intervention to help Saints go through the gears against a Millers side static out of possession. 

He chested town a delightful Taylor Harwood-Bellis ball over the top, raced into the box and backheeled for A Armstrong to arrive onto and finish before half-time.

It was the 15th Championship goal of the season for the Saints number nine, who continues to fire Saints up playing off Che Adams on the right.

Will Smallbone almost got his fifth of the campaign but a first-time shot was excellently saved by the brilliant Viktor Johansson. 

Johnasson also denied A Armstrong with the next big chance - but that did not come until after the break, in the 66th minute.

Republic of Ireland internationals combined in Ryan Manning and Smallbone and the latter's ball over to A Armstrong was perfect. 

Martin turned to his bench for a lift and found Brooks ready to make his debut - he was joined by AFC Bournemouth pal Joe Rothwell.

Rothwell instantly drove past three defenders to create a dangerous chance and show why he was so in demand when he left Blackburn Rovers 18 months ago. 

Brooks' first two touches were to dink it over one player and then nutmeg another before being fouled - they could be good additions.

He tried to curl one into the far corner just before going into four minutes of added time - which proved comfortable for the visitors. 

Rotherham: Johansson; Cafu (Eaves, 87), Clucas, Hugill (62), Lindsay (Rathbone, 62), Peltier, Odoffin, Morrison, Tiehi, Revan (Seriki, 85), Kiosso (Appiah, 85).

Unused subs: Phillips, Rinomhota, Wyke, Humphreys.

Saints: Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Manning; Downes (Rothwell, 73), Smallbone, S Armstrong (Charles, 89); A Armstrong, Fraser (Brooks, 73), Adams (Mara, 80).

Unused subs: Lumley, Stephens, Edozie, Meghoma, Dibling.

Booked: Downes, S Armstrong. 

Referee: Sunny Gill

Attendance: 11,179 (2,413 away)