'More to come' from Southampton in West Brom play-off

David Brooks of Southampton celebrates scoring his team's clinching second goal with teammate Samuel Edozie on this season's previous visit to The Hawthorns in February
Southampton were comfortable 2-0 winners on this season's previous visit to The Hawthorns in February [Getty Images]

Southampton manager Russell Martin says there is "still more to come" from his side going into Sunday's Championship play-off semi-final first leg against West Bromwich Albion.

The Saints, who have already done the league double over Albion this season, take on Carlos Corberan's Baggies at The Hawthorns looking for another positive result to take into next Friday's second leg.

After beating West Brom 2-1 at St Mary's in November, Saints won 2-0 in February's reverse fixture - on a night when home boss Corberan was sent off for touching the ball while it was still in play.

"We played brilliantly at West Brom," Martin told BBC Radio Solent. "If we can reach those levels of performance again then I will be very happy.

"It’s a big test on Sunday. It’s going to be a tough game. But, in the play-offs, you wouldn’t expect anything else."

After three consecutive Championship defeats to shut the door on any lingering hopes of automatic promotion, Martin's side were victorious on the final day of the regular league season with a 2-1 victory over third-placed Leeds United at Elland Road.

"We need to build on the pressure and intensity we brought to the game at Leeds," Martin added. "There’s still more to come from us."

Although Saints could only finish fourth, 10 points behind champions Leicester City and nine behind Ipswich Town, they finished 12 clear of fifth-placed West Brom.

Albion too suffered three defeats on the spin before winning on the final day.

Having spent most of the season in fifth place - including a constant four-month-long occupation from early December to mid-April - that 3-0 home win over Preston North End did at least lift them back above Norwich City out of sixth.

It also meant playing Saints rather than third-placed Leeds in the play-offs.

Albion are the least fancied side of the four play-off contenders with the bookmakers - including Norwich, who finished below them.

"I don't think it's a bad thing," Albion keeper Alex Palmer told BBC Radio WM.

"People were writing us off earlier in the season before we were really in the play-off places.

"So now we just go about our business. Whether it's under the radar or people have got different odds against us, then so be it.

"We're fully focused on ourselves and putting in the strongest performance on Sunday."

Palmer was merely an interested onlooker - third choice after Sam Johnstone and Jonathan Bond - the last time Albion made the play-offs five years ago, when they narrowly lost to neighbours Aston Villa, the eventual winners.

"I remember the Villa game, when we were last in the play-offs at home," Palmer added.

"It was one of the best atmospheres I've felt. I remember watching from the gantry and it was incredible."

Palmer, who kept 18 clean sheets this season to share the Championship Golden Glove award with Leeds' Illan Meslier, also has previous play-off experience.

His Lincoln City side lost to Blackpool in the League One play-off final - in front of only 10,000 fans at Wembley - in the first post-Covid pandemic final in 2020-21.

After an uplifting season at the Baggies, in which they were taken over by new owners, Albion have a renewed feeling of terrace support to draw on from their fans.

And they can point to a decent home record, having won 15 and lost only four of their 23 home games this season. But Saints have also won 15 home games - and Martin's team also have the better away form, having won 11 times on the road.

But what could also be a telling factor is experience - and the Baggies have that.

Compared to the other three teams, Albion have the most experienced group of players when it comes to the play-offs – and Corberan reached the final two years ago with now relegated Huddersfield Town.