Jason Puncheon scored the only goal for Southampton to nick a priceless victory against fellow promoted side Reading at St Mary’s.
The Saints have experienced an upturn in form over the last month and chalked up a third win in their last five games to move up to 15th in the table – their highest position of the season.
Defeat left the Royal’s, who pipped Nigel Adkins’ men to the Championship title last term, six points from safety and on course for an immediate return to England’s second tier unless they start to turn performances into victories.
Much like last weeks 4-3 defeat at home to Manchester United they deserved to leave the South Coast with something to show for another bright performance that failed to produce the desired result.
But they were up against a reenergised home side and were lucky not to fall behind with Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin both going close early on, while Jay Tabb was denied by the returning Kelvin Davis.
Rickie Lambert then brought the best out of Adam Federici with a curling effort, before the visitors almost snatched the lead when Hal Robson-Kanu nodded the ball against the post from six yards out after being found by Sean Morrison’s headed across goal.
Federici denied Puncheon just after the break, keeping out of his low effort, but the winger would make no mistake just after the hour mark firing across goal and in off the post for his third of the season.
A response was required and Jobi McAnuff almost restored parity for Reading but could only bend his shot wide of Davis’ goal, before Adam Le Fondre headed tamely wide when well placed.