Mauricio Pellegrino has got to be wondering what he can do to get a bit of a break at the moment.

After nine games without a win Saints were ten minutes from finally getting a much-needed victory when the manager took the decision to withdraw Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and replace him Mario Lemina.

Hojbjerg had played solidly but as a young player starting his third game in a week could have been tiring, with his side fighting to defend a one goal advantage.

The wall of noise from the 5,000 strong Saints following was remarkable. The boos rang out, followed by the chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing.’ This in a game Saints were winning.

Alright, they weren’t tearing Fulham to shreds, but then with one win in 13 you have to start somewhere, and to expect a team with next to no confidence to suddenly play sparkling attacking football just because they are facing a team from the Championship seems optimistic in the extreme.

There may have been frustration because Saints didn’t keep the ball like they can, and also sat a little deeper as the game wore on, all tactics unlikely to either be effective or prove popular.

Even so, they were winning, and surely that has to be the most important thing, otherwise you want a defeat, which seems odd, as it never is for the greater good.

It is worrying for Pellegrino that things have gone that far, but he knows only more wins will turn it around.

And, therefore, he must take the positives from victory over Fulham.

It was deserved, though not vintage, against a side that made a lot of changes and really didn’t play all that well.

But a win’s a win, and right now Saints will take anything they can get heading to Watford on Saturday for another huge game.

It may only be the tiniest amount of momentum, but it is something to try and build from.

The winning feeling is so easy to forget, and Saints need to remember this, try and bottle it, and take it forward.

Key will be building greater confidence. With that will come the performances and the results.

It is amazing how when you are struggling mentally you retreat a bit, you sit deeper, you don’t use the ball as well. These are the tell-tale signs of players lacking self—belief.

You don’t turn that around by talking but by actions, and getting a win has to help.

On top of that the manager and the squad clearly need assistance from the club in this transfer window, and it is up to those at the top to deliver. That looks like the nearest thing to a silver bullet.

Given the circumstances, Pellegrino did entirely the right thing and went with a strong team to try and get this victory, which was important for so many of the numerous reasons already listed more than the desire for a cup run.

Saints were the better team, but it wasn’t exactly a classic cup tie.

Shane Long had the ball in the back of the net early on but saw his effort chalked out for a narrow offside before James Ward-Prowse missed the target.

However, the midfielder made no mistake when he scored what proved to be the only goal of the game on the half hour mark.

Saints got a bit of luck in the build-up as Long’s attempted pass out wide hit an unwitting Fulham leg and bounced back across the area.

But Ward-Prowse reacted first and produced a sublime left footed finish into the far corner.

Sofiane Boufal almost added another before the break, while there were strong penalty claims for handball against Stefan Johansen turned away by referee Michael Oliver.

Fulham only threatened in first half stoppage time with Tim Ream stretching for a header and putting it over.

The frustration of the Saints fans probably built as a result of Saints going direct too often in the second period as they sat deeper and deeper the more the nerves jangled.

In truth, they could have made it easier for themselves.

Hojbjerg started a move and then got on the end of Long’s cross in the box, but after he brought it under control he fired a shot at David Button.

Long had a tough chance as a cushioned header from Steven Davis came across his body just outside the area but his shot was a long way wide, before Jack Stephens headed against the crossbar from a corner when just a couple of yards out.

Even right at the death a quick break involving the three Saints subs ended with Manolo Gabbiadini having a decent opportunity, but his finish was dreadful.

Fulham might have levelled on 66 minutes, but Lucas Piazon produced an air shot when he could have converted a right wing cross.

The only other moment of danger for Saints was Denis Odoi firing over after Alex McCarthy had spilled a cross.

So perhaps some light relief for Pellegrino.

The reaction of the fans will tell him there is a long way to go yet before he can feel some breathing space, but any comeback has to start somewhere.