Some Saints players appeared to have already started their march to the arch judging by their performances last night, but the side still dug in to record another important win.
Saints 3 - 2 Hartlepool
After a disappointing pair of results last week, back-to-back wins against MK Dons and Hartlepool could not have come at a better time with Wembley on the horizon. Saints will now enter Sunday's final clash with form on their side, although Pardew faces mounting injury concerns that were added to by Morgan Schneiderlin's removal from play with a tight hamstring last night.
Saints shared five goals with the 'monkey-hangers' in a relatively open game, going behind within ten minutes to a soft opener. Pardew took responsibility for the goal, blaming a tactical mix-up, but the result was never really in doubt as Saints asserted their dominance on the game. Goals from Lee Barnard and Rickie Lambert ensured Saints went in with a lead at the break. That was added to early in the second half as Jason Puncheon broke down the left and delivered a strike that was saved off the line- it fell to Papa Waigo, in characteristic fashion, to take advantage of the rebound. A thunderbolt strike from Austin ensured a nervy finish but Saints were well worth their win, one which takes them to just eleven points from the play-offs.
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