SAINTS boss Russell Martin was left "fairly satisfied" with his side's 0-0 draw at West Brom in the first leg of the Championship playoffs. 

Both teams had chances to win the game as Alex Palmer denied Flynn Downes when one-on-one while Alex McCarthy made an equally crucial save at the other end to keep out Grady Diangana’s header before the break.

The two goalkeepers also kept the game scoreless in the second period with McCarthy again denying Diangana while Palmer made a stunning reaction stop with his feet to turn substitute Ross Stewart’s effort to safety.

It leaves the tie wide open ahead of the second leg at St Mary’s Stadium on Friday, as Saints aim to return to the Premier League at the first attempt while the Baggies look to end their three-season hiatus from the top flight.

Speaking after the match, Martin said: "Alex McCarthy was needed twice and Alex Palmer was needed twice so, yeah, it was a tough game, everything we expected.

Daily Echo: Saints and West Brom bosses Russell Martin and Carlos CorberanSaints and West Brom bosses Russell Martin and Carlos Corberan (Image: PA)

"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."

Martin continued: "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.

Daily Echo: The referee opted for drinks breaks during the sunny Midlands affairThe referee opted for drinks breaks during the sunny Midlands affair (Image: PA)

"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."

Saints came under significant pressure at the start of the match before settling into the tie in front of more than 25,000 supporters. 

Martin admitted: "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."