TWENTY three, twenty three undefeated sang the 2,413 Saints fans inside Rotherham's New York Stadium as referee Sunny Gill blew for full time.

The travelling Southampton supporters were not only basking in the glory of a 2-0 victory, but a victory that officially took their side up to second in the table.

The fact that is has taken a 21 league game unbeaten run to catch Ipswich Town shows the standard at the top of the Championship this season.

Coming into their tie at Rotherham, Saints had slipped down to fourth place after Leeds beat Bristol City 1-0 on Friday night.

Southampton's league position was the topic of discussion at Russell Martin's breakfast table ahead of the game and served as a degree of motivation.

Despite rising to second, ending their long pursuit of the Tractor Boys in the process, it is not enough for goalscorer Jan Bednarek.

He told the Daily Echo: "We are second, but that doesn’t matter now. We have to be second at the end of the season. That is our target.

“Making sure that we keep winning is the most important thing for us. The draws that we have had during this run have felt like defeats.

“We need to keep growing and keep this run going to make sure we are in the top two at the end of the season.”

After a dominant first half display, which could have yielded more goals had it not been for the woodwork and Rotherham's dependable goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, Saints did not manage to match those extremely high levels after the break.

Daily Echo: Adam Armstrong is denied a second goal against RotherhamAdam Armstrong is denied a second goal against Rotherham (Image: PA)

The second half was not without it's own highlights. With 74 minutes on the clock, new signing David Brooks entered for his Southampton debut - alongside fellow Cherries loanee Joe Rothwell.

From the moment Brooks, 26, entered the pitch, he looked like the cool and composed winger Cherries and Wales fans have come to expect.

His first action in a Southampton shirt saw him casually dink the ball over one defender before skinning another to draw a foul.

The Welsh international also went close to hitting his first Saints goal - his curling effort from the edge of the box flew just past the far top corner.

Rothwell also offered a glimpse of what we can expect from him during the second half of the season.

While Rothwell has already played twice for Saints - a cameo against Swansea City and an hour at Watford - his appearance on Saturday gave us our first true insight into why Jason Wilcox signed him. 

With space in front of him, the 29 year old drove forward, leaving Rotherham defenders in his trail, before spraying the ball out to Stuart Armstrong, who was in a good crossing position.

"They are both quality players," Martin told the Daily Echo. "I have no doubt that Joe Rothwell will be a brilliant player for us.

"He gives us something that we haven't already got in midfield. Also because of what his arrival has done to Will Smallbone.

"Will has been incredible. Joe has given other players that lift. It is also no coincidence that Kamaldeen Sulemana has trained so well this week because David Brooks is in the building.

"They all need to drive eachother on. It is good, healthy and respectful competition. Brooksy showed the quality he has and his understanding of the detail.

"In that one moment where Joe turned and drove and then played a perfectly weighted pass to Stuey showed why he is going to be good."

Next up for Southampton is an FA Cup fourth round replay against Watford - with the winner going on to face Liverpool.

As we have seen in previous games, Martin has used the cup as a chance to give players an opening to make their mark on the startling line up.

That will be more important than ever during a relentless February - which could see Saints play as many as eight matches during the shortest month of the year.

More minutes can only help Rothwell adapt to the requirements of his new role, but Brooks will be forced to miss the game as he is cup-tied.

Martin indicated that the likes of Kamaldeen and Sam Edozie may not be fit enough to return on Tuesday evening - which could afford another chance to teenagers Sam Amo-Ameyaw and Tyler Dibling.