CHERRIES finally ended their long wait for an away victory at Southampton with a hard fought 3-1 success at St Mary’s.

It was a classic case of two halves in the battle of the south coast neighbours with Cherries easing into a 2-0 half-time lead through Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson strikes.

But Southampton stormed back after the restart, quickly halving the deficit thanks to a James Ward-Prowse penalty. However, Cherries held firm to survive the heavy late pressure before adding a third at the death through Callum Wilson to seal a first victory at Saints in the club’s history at the 16th time of asking.

And by sealing back-to-back wins for the first time since January, Eddie Howe’s men move up to third in the Premier League table, for a few hours at least.

Howe made one change from the side which beat Everton on Sunday. Lewis Cook, who made his Premier League return against the Toffees after nine months out, wasn’t risked with Jefferson Lerma preferred in midfield. Ryan Fraser was again named among the substitutes with a slight knock.

For Saints, they welcomed back Nathan Redmond from injury while Kevin Danso lined up at left-back after returning from suspension. Moussa Djenepo was ruled out.

The only opening of a slow first five minutes came the way of the hosts with James Ward-Prowse turning wide.

But the deadlock was soon broken at the other end. After Jack Stacey’s marauding run down the right earned a corner, Diego Rico’s pinpoint delivery was powerfully headed in low by Ake, who held of Danso to bag his first goal of the season.

Saints looked for a reply through Soufiane Boufal, whose effort was comfortably stopped by Aaron Ramsdale, before Cherries looked to have doubled their tally.

Dominic Solanke’s slide rule pass found Joshua King, who fired beyond Angus Gunn. But after consultation with VAR, the effort was disallowed for offside.

Briefly shocked into life, Saints tried their luck through Ward-Prowse, who blazed off target before a second Cherries goal did indeed arrive to stay.

And it came courtesy of a superb team move. Rico and King were heavily involved before the latter slipped in Philip Billing, who pulled back to Harry Wilson to beautifully guide a left-footed effort into the bottom far corner for his third goal of the campaign.

King quickly saw a shot deflected wide as Cherries sniffed out a third goal before Ramsdale was finally tested three minutes before the break, parrying away Redmond’s long-range drive.

After a poor first half display, Southampton turned to their bench at the break, introducing Ryan Bertrand in place of Danso.

And the hosts quickly reduced the arrears after the restart. When a Cherries attack broke down, Saints countered at pace with Che Adams eventually tripped clumsily by Steve Cook in the box. Up stepped Ward-Prowse to send Ramsdale the wrong way from the resulting penalty to halve the deficit.

Buoyed by a revived home crowd, Southampton were quickly on the attack again with Redmond firing over the bar.

Looking for a reprieve, Cherries’ pace on the attack was suddenly a threat again in the open contest with VAR checking for a possible penalty after King went down under a Soares challenge in the box, but nothing was given.

Howe introduced Fraser in place of Harry Wilson but back came Southampton through Boufal, who let fly from 20 yards with Ramsdale equal to the task.

Sensing an equaliser, Cherries were again on the back foot with a deep cross finding Redmond in space in the box, only for Stacey to make the block. The attacks kept on coming with Boufal curling agonisingly wide before both managers opted for changes with the game into its final 15 minutes. Lewis Cook replaced Solanke for the visitors while former Cherry Danny Ings was introduced for Saints.

And with the game heading into the final of four added minutes, Southampton carved out one final opportunity but the impressive Ramsdale was again alert to tip away Boufal’s strike.

That allowed Cherries to net with the final action of the contest. After a mix-up at the back, Callum Wilson nipped in ahead of goalkeeper Angus Gunn to walk the ball into the net in front of the raucous away support.

Cherries: Ramsdale; Stacey, S Cook, Ake, Rico; H Wilson (Fraser, 63), Lerma, Billing, King (Surman, 90+3); Solanke (L Cook, 77), C Wilson.

Unused subs: Mepham, Simpson, Ibe, Boruc (g/k).

Booked: Lerma, H Wilson, Stacey.

Southampton: Gunn; Danso (Bertrand, h-t), Bednarek, Vestergaard, Soares; Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Boufal; Redmond (Armstrong, 88), Adams (Ings, 77).

Unused subs: Yoshida, Stephens, Long, McCarthy (g/k).

Booked: Romeu.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

VAR: Graham Scott

Attendance: 30,168