EVERY word Saints manager Russell Martin said in his press conference following the 0-0 playoff semi-final draw at West Brom.

Do you feel 0-0 is a fair result? 

RM: Alex McCarthy was needed twice and Alex Palmer was needed twice so, yeah, it was a tough game, everything we expected.

Tough atmosphere, they started the game brilliantly, we didn't, but we defended really well in those moments and kept a clean sheet away from home.

It's good but I think we can play a lot better than that. It was hot, the pitch got stickier and stickier as it went on because of the heat, but the lads stuck to it. 

There were some tired bodies from both teams towards the end it is delicately poised, which will be nice for the neutrals and for Sky and all that stuff.

For us, we avoided any real damage ahead of the home leg - which is important. We came in to try and win, so I liked a lot of it, but there's some stuff we can do a lot better.

I think that's the exciting thing for us as a group of coaches now, to watch it straight away and to really analyse it and learn and see what we can do better.

I think we definitely have another gear or two to click through with the ball and our pitch. It will be less hot I think on Friday evening and the pitch will move the ball a quicker.

It's not a criticism of anyone, it's just so hot and it was sticky. I think on the whole, we're fairly satisfied. 

We're playing against a good team with a good manager and you have to respect that. Now we have to win a game at home to get to Wembley.

Relief to ride out early pressure?

RM: Speaking to Matt Gill on the bench, we knew the lads had to ride this out a bit.

At some point in the game, in the play-off against a really good team, you're going to have to suffer a little bit.

We spoke about it before with the lads. We did it at Leeds last week and we showed real resilience and some joy in the tough moments.

On the whole, as I said, I like some of the bits a lot and there's some stuff that we can be so much better at.

Alex McCarthy stepping up to be counted? 

RM: Yeah, he's been great. I just don't think anything phases him really.

He has that laid-back mentality but he really backs himself as a goalkeeper. So he's been fantastic, really, really good.

Any team would probably miss Che Adams but did you feel that today?

RM: yeah, we missed Che a lot. That’s not a disrespect to any of our other players. I think he's probably been one of our best players for the last four or five weeks.

He has been playing the best football I've seen him play since we've been here. He has played with energy and a freedom with the way he takes the ball and gets the team up the pitch.

He is real goal threat and a physical presence. I think any team is going to miss him. Sekou did fine today and then Ross did really well when he came on. 

He looked such a threat and hopefully we'll have Che back for Friday all being well as well.

Will Adams be available for Friday? 

RM: I think there was hope he would be ready for this one but the risk outweighs the reward today. 

It is quite soon after the game. He's been working. He's been doing everything he possibly can. 

We'll get him on a training pitch in the next couple of days and then see how he reacts and adapts to that because he's important.

You mentioned Ross Stewart as well, he nearly scored his first shot for the club. I don't know how the keeper kept that out? 

RM: It's a great save. Ross' energy, enthusiasm, aggression, physical presence, all the stuff I've just said about Che.

And that half an hour for him today will be so important in the next step for him. He's more ready to start a game for sure.

And then we need to make sure we win on Friday to give him another opportunity to be ready for another game. That's the job at hand.

Both first leg games finished in a tie. Do you expect that from the first leg?

RM: I think they're often cagey affairs. I haven't been involved in it myself. It was hot and the Norwich game looked hot.

When you have a bit of tension and your legs feel a bit heavy and then the sun's out and the heat's there and what's at stake, everyone is aware of that, it's difficult.

You feel that as a player in your legs. Maybe that is a reason for it, but we came to try and win. We didn't. We also avoided any real damage. So I'm pleased with that.

What things have you got to work on ahead of Friday's second leg?

RM: Lots. I think we now have to prioritise what we need to really work on and what stuff we can just tweak.

Then cross our fingers and pray that it's the right things and we've worked on the right things.

Just more on Ross Stewart's impact, after being out so long what else does he need to? 

RM: I think he also just has an enthusiasm for the game that is really beautiful to see.

He's had a tough journey to be here. He's had a tough time since he's been here. And now he has just desperation and enthusiasm to help us. 

And I love that about him. That's why we were so keen to sign him in the first place.

I do believe, I've said to you so many times, over a long period he's going to be a really brilliant signing for the club.

But he can also be a really brilliant signing for the club now and be really important for us on Friday night.

On Friday, Saints have home advantage so is it then advantage Saints now?

RM: I don't know. I hope so. We've been good at home on the whole. The fans will bring an excellent atmosphere and energy. 

I'm convinced of that, as they have done so many times this season and I'm pretty sure the lads will be looking forward to it. Really looking forward to it. 

But before then, there's a lot of work to do and a lot to analyse and try and improve on to take the positives and to take the stuff that we really need to work on to help us.

Flynn Downes mentioned in his post-match that he could hardly breathe for the first half out because of the heat. Was that a common complaint in your dressing room?

RM: Yes, I think both sorts of players. When they come over for the drinks break, I think, yes, I don't think you can underestimate that. 

I'm sweating just watching on the sidelines. So, yes, I'll try to think what it would have been like out there.

But, what I would say is that I don't recall many play-off semi-finals or finals that are not played in real heat.

I played in one, it was really hot. And Wembley becomes an even bigger pitch when it's really hot.

I think today will be good for us to get through that, to get through a tough spell, for the players to play in those conditions and to still try and be the team we want to be. 

As I said, the pitch got drier and drier as the game went on. So, yes, I'm proud of them for that.