Southampton boss Russell Martin joked about hating the basketball nature of his side’s breathless 5-3 Sky Bet Championship victory over Huddersfield at St Mary’s.
Saints trailed 2-0 and 3-2 and were looking at their 24-game unbeaten run ending before a manic second half ended up with the high-flying hosts claiming victory thanks to Joe Rothwell’s double, a Tom Lees own goal and late strikes from Sekou Mara and Samuel Edozie.
They might have kept their club-record run, and maintained second spot in the table, but master of perfection Martin was less enthralled by the “carnage” on view.
“I enjoyed the feeling at the end. That isn’t my kind of game. It was like basketball at one point, it was carnage,” he said.
“I love basketball but not on a big pitch.
“My immediate feeling is immense pride and gratitude towards the players and the supporters for the energy they showed.
“The conversation we had at half-time was about how it is never easy to play the way we want to play.
“To do what they are doing is incredible. Nobody should ever take that for granted. It takes immense work, courage and intensity. We lacked all of that in the first half.
“Then, to bring it back to 2-2, what a response. Then we got caught up in that emotion. To go 3-2 down and deal with that setback was incredible.
“I’m frustrated at the first half. I’m frustrated that we have conceded as many goals today as we have in our last 10 home games.
“But big credit to Huddersfield, I thought they were great. They came here with complete freedom. They deserved to be leading at half time, but we deserved to win it by the end of the game.
“We will take a lot from that second half, but we will also learn a lot from the first half. The gaps were too big and we lacked courage because what Huddersfield were doing to us.
“We got spooked for the first time in a long time. To overcome that in the way that we did was immense. I am so proud of them.”
Sorba Thomas’ 36th-minute opener saw Southampton trailing at home for the first time in almost 22 hours before David Kasumu gave the struggling visitors a 2-0 half-time lead.
However, Saints were level inside five minutes of the second half with Rothwell firing home a superb first-time volley before netting his second after being set up by fellow Bournemouth loanee David Brooks.
But the Terriers found a second wind to lead again through a heavily-deflected Alex Matos shot in the 65th minute, before Saints rallied once more to net three times in the last 10 minutes and claim a dramatic win.
Rothwell’s low centre saw Lees put through his own goal before Mara and Edozie completed the turnaround.
Interim Huddersfield boss Jon Worthington, who saw his side beat relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 in his first game in charge, said “I enjoyed the game. The lads gave everything I asked of them and followed the plan to a tee.
“There are loads of positives especially as a coach and from the way we played.
“I’m really proud. I believe in this group of players and they have trust in me and the staff to follow the game plan.
“We are disappointed with the result. I want to win games, and hate losing and so do the players.
“Loved the performance and the front four and that is how I think it should be played.
“At 2-0 up we didn’t want to sit back because that would be what Southampton wanted.”