GOALSCORER Will Smallbone insisted the welcome was "more than" he "ever imagined it would be" ahead of their playoff semi-final.

The 24 year old midfielder credited the club's supporters for the atmosphere they created ahead of their 3-1 win over West Brom.

Smallbone, a Saints academy graduate, netted the opening goal just after half-time to give his side the impetus.

Adam Armstrong scored twice more to repay the efforts of the fans, who backed their side from the afternoon to late at night.

Speaking to club media at the end of the match, Smallbone said: "Overjoyed to get to our goal, to get to Wembley.

Daily Echo: Will Smallbone netted his seventh goal of the Championship seasonWill Smallbone netted his seventh goal of the Championship season (Image: Stuart Martin)

“We all knew coming into today it was one more game to get us closer to where we want to be, and where we set out to be at the start of the season.

"An unreal performance from the boys, and I’m really looking forward to next week. I think first half we played well.

"We started fast and weren’t too disappointed not to score, but we had a few things we could tweak and I think the manager did that at half-time."

Smallbone added: “We came out firing, all guns blazing in the second half, and to get that early goal.

"We kicked on again from there and I think that sums us up and stands us in good stead for next week.”

Thousands of fans packed Britannia Road to welcome the team bus around 6:25pm, turning the air red with smoke bombs and flares.

Smallbone thumped a shot in off the inside of the post in the 49th minute, after he was slipped in by midfield maestro Flynn Downes.

“It was unreal, honestly, I can’t describe it,” Smallbone grinned. “It will be nice to watch it back at some point tonight.

"I think that’s the manager’s whole philosophy in one goal – playing out from the back and moving, and to be on the end of it and finish it was unreal.

“Coming through the academy and growing up, it’s nights like this you really, really want to play in.

"The fans before the game turned up in their numbers and we knew coming into the game how big this is for the club.

"I think myself more than anyone understands that. It was unreal. It was the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like that.

"I’ve seen on social media through the week the fans building it up and the club as well, telling people to get there, but it was more than I ever imagined it would be.

“Being on the coach coming in, the lads knew the importance of the game, and as we went out there and put in that performance, we backed it up.

"I was really happy to put in a performance, and to get a goal as well was unreal.”