Stuart Armstrong’s sublime free-kick handed Southampton back-to-back Sky Bet Championship wins with a hard fought 1-0 victory at Stoke.

The midfielder’s right-footed effort just before half-time proved the difference at the bet365 Stadium as Russell Martin’s side built on their weekend win over Leeds, while the Potters slipped to their fifth loss in seven Championship games.

Stoke’s Ben Pearson unleashed the evening’s first effort but did not trouble Gavin Bazunu, before Sead Haksabanovic sliced wide as the hosts began brightly.

Kamaldeen Sulemana’s dangerous 18th-minute cross after getting past Ki-Jana Hoever from the left flank could not find a Saints player to finish.

Haksabanovic’s clever flick played in youngster Nathan Lowe – making his first Stoke start after netting Saturday’s winner against Bristol City – but Kyle Walker-Peters arrived to make a crucial challenge.

Southampton responded with a flowing counter-attack but Sulemana should have done better with it as he blasted into the stands.

Mehdi Leris robbed Ryan Manning and his teasing 24th-minute cross was met by Lowe, who headed into the ground before Bazunu claimed, while Adam Armstrong dragged wide at the other end not long after.

Stoke’s Lowe crossed from the left with 10 minutes of the first half remaining but his delivery was behind Leris, who would have had a simple finish.

The visitors broke the deadlock four minutes before the break as Stuart Armstrong’s sublime 25 yard free-kick flew past Mark Travers.

Junior Tchamadeu cut in from the right and unleashed a low effort which sailed just off target as the hosts sought a quick equaliser.

Adam Armstrong’s pinpoint cross found the goalscorer after the break but Burnley loanee Luke McNally’s vital block denied the midfielder’s header.

Sulemana forced Travers into action with a low 55th-minute block with his leg after the winger glided into the box, as Carlos Alcaraz headed the resulting corner into the goalkeeper’s arms.

At the other end, Daniel Johnson forced a save from Bazunu as the hosts’ penalty calls after Lowe went down under Jan Bednarek’s challenge went unanswered.

Leris’ teasing cross with 15 minutes to go was met by Stoke substitute Wesley but he could not find the target as the hosts sought an equaliser.

Sekou Mara could have doubled Southampton’s advantage after being picked out by fellow substitute Joe Aribo but slammed an 83rd-minute effort wide.

Will Smallbone nodded over Manning’s corner as full-time approached, before Stoke substitute Wouter Burger forced Bazunu to parry away a fierce injury-time effort at the other end.

Southampton successfully navigated 10 minutes added time after a lengthy stoppage due to injury for Stoke’s Ben Wilmot as Martin’s side emerged victorious.