Saints boost survival hopes
Southampton improved on their dreadful home record with a crucial 3-1 success over high-flying Preston.
Last Updated: 21/02/09 6:16pm
Southampton improved on their dreadful home record with a crucial 3-1 success over high-flying Preston North End at St Mary's Stadium.
Saints had won just once on home soil in the Championship this season, leaving them facing the real prospect of relegation to League One next term.
However, the south coast side closed the gap on fourth-from-bottom Nottingham Forest thanks to first-half goals from Andrew Surman and a brace from Marek Saganowski.
Ross Wallace pulled one back for The Lilywhites in the second half, but it proved nothing more than a consolation for Alan Irvine's charges.
The home side started brightly and had the first real chance of the match after seven minutes, Rudi Skacel crossing from the right for striker David McGoldrick to head wide from six yards out.
Pressure paid off
The pressure eventually paid off when Southampton took the lead after 19 minutes. McGoldrick fed Saganowski who laid the ball off for Surman to slide home at the near post.
The hosts almost made it 2-0 five minutes later when Jason Euell headed Skacel's deep cross goal wards but North End goalkeeper Andy Lonergan got across to palm the ball wide.
They did not have to wait long for the second to come though as, after 29 minutes, Simon Gillet's long ball was chested down by Adam Lallana to Saganowski, who drilled the ball home on the half-volley.
John Parkin should have pulled a goal back for the visitors less than a minute later but his effort drifted wide of the post.
Parkin had a second chance to score but fired into the side netting before the hosts extended their lead still further.
The impressive Surman fed Saganowski, who shrugged off a challenge to smash the ball home left-footed.
Preston boss Irvine made a triple substitution at half-time as he looked to inject some life into his side. Youl Mawene, Chris Brown and Richard Chaplow all entered the fray as the visitors threw caution to the wind.
The changes seemed to make little difference in the early stages as the home side picked up where they left off with Surman and Saganowski linking up well to create a good early chance.
Southampton looked content to sit on their lead while Preston struggled to test the Saints goalkeeper Kelvin Davis with a chance of any note.
Lallana came close to adding a fourth when he got clear in the area but his header was tipped round the post by Lonergan.
With 18 minutes remaining Preston pulled a goal back as Billy Jones played in Ross Wallace, who turned and curled the ball home from close-range to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.
The visitors pushed forward as time ran out and chances fell to Parkin and Wallace, but neither could take advantage to set up a rousing finish.