Southampton Under-21s coach Radhi Jaïdi said the team’s performance in a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough had put a big smile on his face.
Saints ended a run of eight matches without a win in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League as they triumphed against Boro at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park stadium.
Josh Sims netted once and Sam Gallagher scored twice, as Technical Director Martin Hunter’s side came from behind to claim a big three points that eases any relegation concerns, while there was also the added positive of Jay Rodriguez playing an hour on his return after nearly five months out injured.
"That has put a smile on my face,” Jaïdi told Southampton’s official YouTube channel. “We got a good result, three points that make everyone happy and that's the reward of the hard work we put in last week and during this week.
"We all knew that it was a game to win. We came here to get the three points to keep ourselves in a good position in the table and they all did really well.
“They reacted really well even when we conceded the goal. We kept our heads up and worked really hard to get back on the scoresheet.”
Jaïdi also explained how pleased everyone was to see Rodriguez back, as he took a big step on the road back to recovery after foot surgery.
"It was great for us as a club to see Jay back,” said Jaïdi. “Jay is an international. He really did well before the injury. Hopefully that will give him a taster and that will set him back to go back with the first team.”
Jaïdi also had words of praise for striker Sam Gallagher, whose impressive second half double marked his first goals of the season for the under-21s, following his return in January from a loan spell at MK Dons.
"I’m happy for him personally,” said Jaïdi. “Hopefully that will encourage him to work harder and make himself progress, but that's a really good performance from him.”
Hunter’s assistant coach also words of encouragement for Sims as well, who impressed after being restored to the starting line-up following a three-match run on the bench.
"He made an impact for the team, he worked really hard in defending and attacking and hopefully he will keep that consistency in his performance,” said Jaïdi. “He's got great potential and he can make the difference any time he wants.”
Jaïdi also allayed any concerns over the health of skipper Dom Gape, after he was carried off in added time following a nasty-looking clash with Boro’s Mark Kitching.
"We were a bit worried for Gapey,” said Jaïdi. “Hopefully it's ok. He will travel back with us. He got the green light from the doctor, so hopefully he will travel back with us no issue.”