Gus Poyet admitted he was bracing himself for a family argument but not even the fear of upsetting Mrs Poyet could prevent the Uruguayan from declaring his first victory in management as his best birthday present in years.
Poyet, who was 42 yesterday, ended his year-long search for a manager's post last week when he was appointed as Russell Slade's successor at Brighton and his impact at the south coast club has been immediate. After just three days in charge, the former Spurs and Chelsea midfielder was entitled to reflect on an initial job well done after two goals from Glenn Murray and a third from Andrew Crofts, installed by Poyet as captain, ensured Albion put clear water between themselves and the bottom four. And after spells as number two to Denis Wise at Swindon and Juande Ramos at Spurs Poyet conceded he drew far more satisfaction from being the main architect of victory. "This feels great," he said. "It may be a bit unfair on my wife but this is probably the best birthday present I have had in five years. This was the perfect start."
"I was waiting for this day for a year since I left Spurs. Life gives you surprises and my first match was on my birthday. I'll remember this day, I'm 42 and we've got three points from my first game in charge. You couldn't ask for more. I don't drink too much, but I'll go home and have a glass of wine with the family to celebrate this."
Albion's last two results, the 3-3 home draw with Hartlepool that proved to be Slade's swansong and last weekend's 4-4 FA Cup stalemate at Wycombe, summed up the strengths and weaknesses of the side Poyet inherited. The South American took the decisive step of dropping captain and centre-back Adam Virgo and admitted he was pleased with his side's more resolute appearance.
Two goals in six minutes in the first half, both neat finishes from Murray, gave the visitors the cushion they subsequently required to fend off Southampton's determined response. Alan Pardew's side came into the game on the back of a run that had brought just one defeat in the previous 14 games and they were back in the contest when Andrew Whing fouled Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert converted the penalty two minutes after the break.
But Saints' revival inexplicably spluttered after the interval and despite being forced to cling on at times, Brighton finished the game in relative comfort when Crofts slotted home three minutes from time.
"It's never good to say you could see a defeat coming but I was concerned about this game," said Saints manager Pardew. "They have a good front two and they defended better than they have been doing."
Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; James, Jaidi, Trotman (Thomas 46), Harding (Mills 84); Antonio (N'Diaye 79), Hammond, Schneiderlin, Lallana; Lambert, Connolly. Subs: Bialkowski, , Mills, Mellis, Wotton, Paterson.
Brighton (4-4-2): Kuipers; Whing, Elphick, Tunnicliffe, El-Abd; Bennett (Navarro 75), Dicker, Crofts, Cox (Hart 60); Forster (Dickinson 75), Murray. Subs: G Smith, Livermore, Virgo, C Davies.
Referee: K Friend