Puncheon strike lifts Southampton
A second-half goal from Jason Puncheon gave Southampton a 1-0 win at home to Reading on Saturday that took the Saints out of the Premier League relegation zone.
Puncheon pounced in the 61st minute as Southampton gained a measure of revenge for finishing second to Reading in last season's Championship.
Victory lifted Nigel Adkins' men up to 15th place in the Premier League, two points above the relegation places, while second-bottom Reading are now six points adrift of safety after a fourth successive defeat.
"It is a good three points for us," said Southampton coach Adkins.
"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 and, in fact, I would have liked us to have scored some more goals from the opportunities we created."
The hosts began positively at St Mary's, but Reading had a strong penalty appeal turned down after Jay Tabb went down in the Southampton box under a challenge from Jack Cork.
Southampton were then given reason to feel aggrieved in the 34th minute when a Puncheon header was ruled out for an altercation between Saints defender Maya Yoshida and visiting goalkeeper Adam Federici in the build-up.
Adkins' men lost influential captain Adam Lallana to a knee injury shortly before halftime, with close-season signing Gaston Ramirez introduced from the substitutes bench.
Reading's Wales international Hal Robson-Kanu hit the post with a header in first-half stoppage time, before the game's only goal arrived 16 minutes into the second period.
Rickie Lambert released Nathaniel Clyne and his pass found Puncheon, who beat Federici with a right-foot shot into the top corner.
Reading's best chance of an equaliser saw striker Adam Le Fondre head wide following a weak clearance by Clyne, while Federici almost sliced a back-pass into his own goal and then did well to hold onto a Clyne cross-shot.
Southampton substitute Guly do Prado twice went close but there was to be no change to the scoreline.