ADAM Armstrong's second half winner helped Saints to a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion to maintain the pressure on the Championship leaders.

The hosts took the lead at St Mary's when Will Smallbone reacted quickest to prod the ball in after Armstrong's shot was blocked on the line.

The Baggies hit back in the second half and were deservedly level when Kyle Bartley was in the right place after Brandon Thomas-Asante's header had struck the bar.

Just as the visitors were looking likely to take three points back to the Midlands, Armstrong steered the ball in from Ryan Fraser's cross.

Russell Martin made just one change from the team that beat Millwall last weekend, with Mason Holgate replacing the suspended Jan Bednarek.

Ross Stewart was part of the Saints squad for the first time as he took his place on the substitutes bench.

It was the best possible start for Martin's side as they took the lead after just five minutes.

S Armstrong found A Armstrong in the middle after a good move down the left but his shot was blocked on the line. Luckily, Smallbone was there to prod the ball in to put Saints in front.

The away side grew more into the game after going behind but they were still finding it difficult to threaten the hosts goal.

Smallbone perhaps had an eye for a goal after his early strike and he went close when he was found by a combination of Kyle Walker-Peters and Kamaldeen Sulemana, before hitting his effort over the bar.

West Brom had struggled to create any major chances of note in the first half but right before half time, Thomas-Asante had a good opportunity though his shot was deflected wide.

It was just a warning sign for Southampton that despite the strong first half showing, the visitors were still well in the game.

Smallbone went down a few minutes into the second half and had to be replaced by Ryan Fraser.

Holgate, who had impressed on his return to the team, made a crucial tackle on 61 minutes to prevent Thomas-Asante from turning and getting a shot off in the box.

Matt Phillips had Gavin Bazunu scrambling across his line when he cut inside and curled an effort just wide of the far post.

The Baggies pressure paid off on 65 minutes when Jed Wallace's cross was headed against the bar by Thomas-Asante but Bartley was there to scramble the ball in.

The Saints boss made a triple change as soon as West Brom scored and it looked like he wanted to make the substitutions before the goal went in.










Moments after Furlong had a header crash against the crossbar, Southampton were soon 2-1 up.

Fraser's cross found its way to the back post where A Armstrong was waiting and he coolly slotted the ball into the net.

Stewart, who was signed from Sunderland in the summer, replaced A Armstrong for his long-awaited debut, with both players getting a rapturous reception from the home crowd.

Some quick reactions from Bazunu and the Saints defenders denied West Brom in stoppage time. The result means that Russell Martin's side head into the international break in fourth position in the table.

Saints: Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Holgate, Bree (Manning, 66); Downes (Charles, 67), Smallbone (Fraser, 54), S Armstrong; Alcaraz, Kamaldeen (Adams, 66), A Armstrong (Stewart, 83)

Unused Subs: McCarthy, Aribo, Edozie, Mara.

Booked: Downes, Holgate, Alcaraz

West Bromwich Albion: Palmer; Furlong, Bartley (Ajayi, 82), Kipre, Townsend; Diangana, Yokuslu (Molumby, 82), Chalobah (Mowatt, 56), Phillips (Fellows, 81); Thomas-Asante, Wallace (Sarmiento, 82)

Unused Subs: Griffiths, Pieters, Pipa, Taylor

Referee: Tom Nield

Attendance: 30,160

Goals: Smallbone 5'

Bartley 65'

A Armstrong 79'