London (AFP) – Aston Villa manager Dean Smith said he will fight back if given the chance after his side lost 1-0 at Southampton on Friday to fall to a fifth consecutive defeat.
Adam Armstrong scored the only goal after just three minutes as he ended a nine-game goal drought in style by smashing into the top corner.
The under-pressure Smith’s name was chanted by the travelling Villa support before kick-off, but was met with boos at half-time after a lacklustre first 45 minutes.
Villa improved markedly after the break, but failed to find an equaliser.
“When you are getting a run of results you get kicked in the teeth and they scored a hell of a goal,” said Smith.
“I said to the players at half-time, you can’t feel the world is against you and have to go and leave everything out there which is what they did.
“I am a scrapper, always have been and disappointed to lose five on the spin. We have five players out injured and we will get players fit in the international break.”
The chances fell to the wrong players for Villa as centre-backs Tyrone Mings and Axel Tuanzebe blasted wastefully off target.
England defender Mings, who was recalled from the start after being dropped for last weekend’s 4-1 defeat by West Ham, also had strong claims for a penalty turned down.
At the other end, Emiliano Martinez produced a stunning save to deny Che Adams doubling Southampton’s lead.
But just the one goal was enough to lift the Saints up to 12th.
“A very solid platform after a bad start,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“The last season we conceded so many goals so the biggest challenge was to get more stable defensively.”
Villa remain in 15th, just three points above the relegation zone.
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