The sun rises in the east, sets in the west and Southampton win at home – recently it has seemed as automatic as that. It was not quite so straightforward last night, but a 19th consecutive victory here for the Saints – a club-record 17th in the league – extended their lead at the top of the Championship and kept them serenely on course for promotion to the Premier League.
Not since Manchester United won an FA Cup fourth-round tie here on 29 January have last season's League One runners-up failed to win in front of their own fans. Darren Ferguson of Peterborough, the son of United manager Sir Alex, was unable to match his father's feat, although his team, down to 10 men after 35 minutes, made it a nervous last few minutes for their hosts when substitute Emile Sinclair pulled a goal back late on after Richard Chaplow and Jos Hooiveld had made the half-time score 2-0 .
Ferguson, though, hinted that Southampton had been instrumental in the dismissal of his midfield player, Lee Frecklington. "I would have to see it again," Ferguson said of the second yellow-card challenge, on Morgan Schneiderlin. "There were other fouls in the game that maybe were worth yellow cards but I don't go around shouting for opposition players to get sent off – unlike Southampton."
Nigel Adkins, the Southampton manager, thought the dismissal had been deserved and was more concerned by his team's failure to add to their first-half lead. "In the second half we didn't pass the ball quick enough, but we've had 19 straight home wins and we keep marching on."
Last night they took charge with two goals in three minutes. First Guly Do Prado laid the ball off for the onrushing Chaplow, who hit his shot past Paul Jones after 14 minutes. Chaplow was involved again as the home side increased their advantage in the 17th minute, crossing to give Hooiveld an unmissable chance to score his third of the season.
The match was becoming a stroll for the Saints, with their task becoming even easier after Frecklington's departure, so it was a shock when Sinclair reduced the arrears. "A lot of teams would have gone under but we showed a great togetherness," Ferguson said. "At 2-1 it got a bit edgy."
Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Richardson, Fonte, Hooiveld, Harding; Chaplow (Cork, 89), Hammond, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Connolly, 63); Do Prado (De Ridder, h-t), Lambert. Substitutes not used: Bialkowski (gk), Martin.
Peterborough United (4-1-3-2): Jones; Little, Bennett, Zakuani, Kennedy; Tunnicliffe (Sinclair, 51); Frecklington, McCann, Rowe (Ball, 80); Boyd, Taylor (Kearns, 66). Substitutes not used: Lewis (gk), Thompson.
Referee G Ward (Surrey).