Saints advanced to the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup with a 1-0 win from their replay with Ipswich Town.
Shane Long’s perfectly controlled 19th minute strike proved to be the difference in a cagey encounter at Portman Road which Ronald Koeman’s men did enough in to earn a 2-1 victory on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s ten days’ ago.
The success sets up another home draw in round four against Crystal Palace and preserved Saints’ 100 per cent record over Ipswich in FA Cup competition.
It wasn’t all good news for the visitors though as they lost Victor Wanyama to what looked like a hamstring injury just before half-time and could be a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United in the Barclays Premier League.
Saints manager Koeman made a sprinkling of changes to the team that started the win at Manchester United, with goal scorer from that game Dušan Tadić among those who came into the starting line-up in a 3-5-2 formation for the visitors.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Toby Alderweireld were both ruled out through injury, while Eljero Elia was ineligible to play at this stage of the competition.
Ipswich fielded former Saints men Bartosz Bialkowski and David McGoldrick in their eleven as they got the game under way on a cool evening inside Portman Road.
The hosts had the best of the early openings with Darren Ambrose firing over before Stephen Hunt rolled ball into the net on six minutes only to be from an offside position after Bru’s assist, with the effort correctly ruled out.
Victor Wanyama tried his luck from range with Bialkowski out of his goal soon after, but the ball cleared the bar by some distance.
Saints took the lead on 19 minutes with a well-taken strike by Shane Long goal. It was Tadić who had cleverly played Ward-Prowse through the centre, and when the midfielder was challenged on the edge of the area, the ball landed straight at the feet of Long who executed a majestic first time finish for 1-0.
From then on, Saints ramped up the pressure, with Ward-Prowse skimming the top of the net from long range after Wanyama had outmuscled three opponents in midfield to create the opportunity.
Although there were few other chances in the rest of the half, Tadić almost weaved his way through on goal before Ward-Prowse struck another effort over the bar.
There was brief concern after a clash of heads between Targett and Ipswich skipper Luke Chambers just before the break, but both players were fine to continue.
One player who was not going to reappear for the second 45 was Wanyama, who pulled up with what could be a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time and hobbled off the pitch at the interval.
Just prior to that, McGoldrick had flashed a dangerous looking strike wide of the near post for the home side who perhaps sensed they were still in with a chance of salvaging their cup campaign in the second half.
Wanyama was replaced by Steven Davis at the start of the new period, with Saints looking to pick up from where they left off before the break.
In truth, it was a more even affair thereafter, with Town having extra purpose brought from the introductions of Tyrone Mings and Balint Bajner, the former of which delivering a teasing cross for Ambrose to head at Forster’s goal where the Saints stopper made a comfortable save.
Saints put together some neat passing moves at the other end, but to no avail, and with the game still in the balance, Pellè replaced Tadić to try and find a killer second goal.
Ipswich still had a bit of fighting spirit in them, with Bru striking over from distance, while the introduction of winger Cameron Stewart gave the Blues an extra dimension in the closing stages, but after three minutes of stoppage time there were no further goals as Saints took the win.
Ipswich Town team: Bartosz Bialkowski, Jonathan Parr, Christophe Berra, Luke Chambers (c), Stephen Hunt (Tyrone Mings 55), Kevin Bru, Luke Hyam, Darren Ambrose (Cameron Stewart 82), David McGoldrick (Balint Bajner 63), Daryl Murphy
Unused substitutes: Michael Crowe, Matt Clarke, Paul Anderson, Darren McQueen
Southampton team: Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, Florin Gardos, José Fonte (c), Ryan Bertrand, Matt Targett, Victor Wanyama (Steven Davis 46), Harrison Reed, James Ward-Prowse, Dušan Tadić (Graziano Pellè 67), Shane Long
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Jack Cork, Jake Hesketh, Lloyd Isgrove, Jason McCarthy
Goal: Long (19)
Referee: Graham Scott
Attendance: 27,933 (1,126 away)