AS the ball looped over Gavin Bazunu to restore Huddersfield’s lead, Southampton’s 24-game unbeaten run looked as though it was crashing to a halt.

An uncharacteristically slow start at St Mary's saw a relegation-threatened Terriers leap to a deserved 2-0 buffer at the break.

Welsh international Sorba Thomas fired the visitors ahead before driving through their defence and turning provider for David Kasumu just before the break.

For the first time in a long time, supporters let their frustrations show as the players went down the tunnel. 

But, within five minutes of the restart, Joe Rothwell struck twice in 65 seconds to bring Southampton back on level terms. 

His first was the type of goal you can watch on repeat without growing tired of it. His second was brilliantly set up by fellow AFC Bournemouth loanee David Brooks.

The workers on the cruise ship which had docked in the city that morning could probably hear St Mary's sing as Rothwell's second ripped the net.

But in that emotion, Huddersfield pulled themselves back in front when Alex Matos’ shot took a wicked deflection off Will Smallbone, leaving Bazunu scrambling with no chance.

That goal zapped the energy out of St Mary’s and stung supporters into silence - for just a few seconds.

A rallying cry of "Come on you reds" followed as Saints successfully picked themselves up to draw level once more when Rothell's low cross was turned into his own net by Tom Lees.

Southampton were not content with pulling level for a second time and instead attacked for a fourth and fifth, which were both scored by two more substitutes, Sekou Mara and Sam Edozie.

"We said they have a great opportunity to show everyone how far they have come and how much they have grown," Martin told the Daily Echo when asked what he told his players at halftime.

Daily Echo: Russell Martin is proud of Saints

"If we are going to lose, let's lose on our terms by being the team that we want to be. We weren't that in the first half.

"If they wanted to run, I felt the longer the game went on the more chance we had of winning because of how hard Huddersfield had to work without the ball.

"I told them 'if you get the next goal you will win it'. It's my job to convince the players, but I wouldn't have said that if I didn't feel that it was possible."

For all of Southampton's first-half faults, Huddersfield deserve huge credit for the way they stifled the hosts.

Jon Worthington's side did not look like a team fighting for their lives in the Championship. Instead, they rocked up on the south coast with a hunger to press Saints.

They changed shape from their 4-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday last time out, something which allowed them to ensure the distances between players was correct when hunting for the ball.

As we have already seen this season, this is not a Southampton team who will happily accept defeat.

You could cobble together a pretty good compilation of their late goals from this campaign.

Southampton have earned 10 points from goals scored after the 85th minute this season - while they also secured a fourth-round FA Cup replay against Watford thanks to Stuart Armstrong's 89th-minute curler. 

Daily Echo: Joe Rothwell scored twice in 65 seconds to turn things around at St Mary's.Joe Rothwell scored twice in 65 seconds to turn things around at St Mary's. (Image: Stuart Martin)

It is often said that teams who win championships or gain promotion need that knack of finding a way to win, no matter the context of the game.

Rothwell, who was named man of the match after the game, explained that he believes Saturday's win could be pivotal in their race for promotion.

He admitted: "I think by the end of the season that if we go up by three points that this is a game where we’ll say it is massive for us."

Every goal scored by Southampton on Saturday was both scored and assisted by a substitute - Lees' own-goal is the slight exception, although it came from Rothwell's cross.

Not many teams in the Championship have historically been able to call upon this much quality from the bench.

Soon there will come a time when Martin is forced to leave important players out of the squad. Tyler Dibling was the sole youth survivor on the bench with Kamaldeen Sulemana back.

But who drops out when James Bree and Joe Aribo are back from injury and AFCON respectively? Too many quality players is not a bad problem to have. 

"We have a lot of talent on the bench and we needed a moment or two of individual brilliance. It also comes down to the way the team is structured," Martin concluded.

"With the way that the team play, the substitutes have to respect the amount of work the starting players have put into the opposition. 

"They are coming on quite often nice and fresh when the opposition have tired bodies. They still have to impact the game - it's about being ready and pushing each other. I enjoyed that."