Southampton manager Russell Martin felt his side were 'dominant' in a 3-2 defeat at Ipswich Town.

An enthralling game between Championship promotion rivals ebbed and flowed. The Blues led through Leif Davis' stunning strike (13), trailed 2-1 at the break thanks to goals from Che Adams (14) and Adam Armstrong (23), but came back to win it through finishes from substitutes Nathan Broadhead (68) and Jeremy Sarmiento (90+7) after James Bree was dismissed for the visitors (85).

"We were the best team. We didn't deserve to lose," said Martin, during a terse post-match press conference.

"We came here, we had 17 shots on goal, created five huge chances, we missed three, they had relatively little until late on, at 2-1 we responded amazingly well to a poor goal to concede...

"If you were at the game, if you were feeling it and watching it, you know we were the dominant team and we should go on to win the game.

"But we missed two massive chances, we got down to 10 men and they take theirs. Even at 2-2, I thought we were going to win the game. With 10 men Brooksy (David Brooks) goes through in the box, squares it and we nearly score. 

"So I'm so proud of the players. If we play like that between now and the end of the season we'll be right in it still, I think."

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On Bree's dismissal for running across the heels of Davis as he burst towards the box, Martin said: "I think Taylor (Harwood-Bellis) is getting there. I've only seen it once, so I don't know, but he couldn't wait to give a red card. It's all good."

Asked how this defeat might affect his side's confidence for the run-in, the Saints boss replied: "I can't speak for the group yet, but I can speak for me. It gives me a huge amount of confidence and encouragement about what's to come. We played brilliantly tonight. No-one can say any different.

"I'm not sitting here saying it's not a blow. It hurts a lot. We'll know how much of a blow it is in four weeks' time."

With the south coast club now 12 points adrift of the automatic promotion places (with two games in hand to come), Martin was asked if he felt a top-two finish was gone.

"I don't know if it's gone," he replied. "We have eight games. If we play like I really think we can win all eight. That would put us on 98 points and I don't think anyone's ever not got promoted with that. We'll still aim for it whilst it's possible."

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On his decision not to start star right-back Kyle Walker-Peters, he explained: "James Bree deserved to play. Kyle played on Friday having not played for a while. No player is guaranteed a start in the team. There wasn't a problem with selection because the guys on the pitch were fantastic."

On his team's recent profligacy in front of goal, he said: "It's not a technical thing. They can all do it. Maybe it's been great defending, great goalkeeping, maybe it's just a lack of composure at certain tomes. But I'm not going to criticise anyone. We shouldn't concede the goals we've conceded today.

"We've scored a lot of goals this season, so it's not been a problem, but in the last two it has.

"I'm really proud of them. It's just those moments in both boxes really and they know that. This team in general has responded really well to set-backs and I've got no doubt we will again."

Martin then strode out of his post-match press conference bemoaning a negative line of questioning. 

Southampton go to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Ipswich Town, meanwhile, prepare for an East Anglian derby at Norwich City.

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