ANTHONY PILKINGTON and Joey Gudjonsson produced the sweetest of strikes to seal a hugely satisfying win.
Those two clinical finishes, in the sixth and 45th minutes, and a sheer willingness to work, ensured it was Town who prevailed in the contest of two teams chasing a third consecutive victory – and keen to play football.
Time after time, a Southampton side unbeaten in their previous five outings and seemingly on the up under former Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins were closed down as Lee Clark’s side impressed off the ball as well as on it.
There were just two moments of genuine worry for the home fans, in the 36th minute, when Damien Johnson cleared off the line from Rickie Lambert, and the first minute of the second half, when Lee Peltier blocked Guily do Prado’s shot.
And even the delay in which Holme Valley-based fourth official Jason Tyas took over as assistant referee because Mark Sutton was feeling unwell and which led to 11 minutes of time being added on failed to de-rail Town’s determined drive towards another three-point haul.
Clark named the same starting XI for the second game running, keeping faith with Antony Kay in central defence and Lee Novak and Alan Lee up front, and his players really hit the ground running.
Pilkington brought a fine one-handed save from Kelvin Davis with a fifth-minute free-kick following Jose Fonte’s foul on Novak.
But there was nothing the long-serving former Sunderland stopper could do to prevent Town going ahead a minute later.
Davis was rooted to his spot as first Gudjonsson crashed a shot against the right-hand post, then Pilkington fired home first time from the rebound.
It was a superb finish from the winger, his sixth goal of the season and fourth in three games.
And it really lifted both Town and their supporters, with the hard-working Lee lobbing just over after a slack Saints’ clearance and Graham Carey forcing Davis into another save with a shot from 20 yards out.
Davis had to be alert to block from Kay before the visitors, whose only previous effort had been a Fonte shot pushed away by Ian Bennett, finally bared their teeth.
Good work down the left by the tricky Adam Lallana set up dangerman Lambert, but Johnson was on hand to divert his first header before Bennett punched clear from the follow-up.
Town were soon back on the attack, and Peter Clarke shot narrowly wide from a Carey free-kick before Peltier and Pilkington combined to set up Lee, whose low effort was held by Davis.
Town were worth another goal, and it duly arrived when Clarke’s challenge ensured Carey’s free-kick was cleared only as far as the edge of the box, where the lurking Gudjonsson rifled a low shot into Davis’s left-hand corner to register his first Town goal.
Saints must have been deflated, but they pushed forward at the start of the second half, and Town were relieved when Peltier threw himself in the way of lively Brazilian do Prado’s effort.
Lambert’s 57th-minute header from Jason Puncheon’s cross was calmly held by Bennett, but chances at either end were rare as a series of disruptions robbed the match of momentum.
Peltier and Pilkington were both brought off after feeling niggly injuries while Saints lost their five-goal top scorer Lambert with concussion.
The change of assistant referee – former Thongsbridge cricketer Tyas was given a warm round of applause by fans of his hometown club as he picked up the flag! – means everyone had to stay a little later than usual.
But full marks to Town for maintaining their concentration all the way through and cementing a welcome second clean sheet in a row.