Southampton manager Nigel Adkins is proud of the way his players rose to the challenge against fellow strugglers Reading to move out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory.

Saints came into the match a place, and three points, better off than their opponents, who pipped the Hampshire side to the npower Championship title last season. Adkins' side exacted revenge for that on Saturday, with Jason Puncheon's solitary goal enough to secure victory.

"It is a good three points for us," the Saints boss said. "It is important to win our home games, especially against the teams close to us in the league. I thought we thoroughly deserved the victory today and, in fact, I would have liked us to have scored some more goals from the opportunities we created."

Adkins added: "All-in-all, we've got to be happy with the clean sheet and three points. The players stepped up to the mark. There might be talk [of pressure] on the outside, but the players deserve all the credit. They work really hard on the training ground and there is a great togetherness about them.

"They've gone out and put on a very good performance. I think if we can keep concentrating on our performances and what we want to do, we give ourselves an opportunity to go and win."

Right-winger Puncheon was the standout player for Southampton and Adkins felt he should have had two goals, having seen a first-half header chalked off.

"It was a great goal, I am delighted with it," Adkins said of the goal that did stand. "Jason could have had a few more. He had a few opportunities and a perfectly good goal disallowed as well."

While Southampton can relax, starting with their Christmas party on Sunday night, Reading face a quick turnaround. Brian McDermott's side were second best at St Mary's as they slumped to a fourth successive defeat - hardly ideal preparation for a trip to Sunderland on Tuesday.

"We are disappointed," the Reading boss said. "We had an opportunity [to win] in the first half and hit the post. That first goal was always going to be really, really important. They got it.

"In the second half I didn't really feel we stepped on the way we needed to get three points, never mind one."

Source: PA