Following Aston Villa away from home has been a pretty miserable pastime in recent years. Running the gauntlet of England's motorways and surviving on inedible service station food is bad enough.

But a consistent failure to win on their travels makes life on the road seem all the more depressing.

However Villa's fortunes away from Villa Park have taken a decisive turn for the better this month.

Fresh from a marvellous 3-0 victory at Newcastle United, Villa's loyal travelling support enjoyed a second successive away win, this time at Southampton.

And even though none of the home players started fighting each other, which is what happened at St James' Park, this latest triumph was every bit as memorable.

The omens did not look good when an accident near the ground caused chaos on the roads and the kick-off was put back 15 minutes.

When the game did finally start Villa were quickly on the ropes as ex-Villa striker Peter Crouch terrorised the visitors' defence alongside Kevin Phillips.

Both Saints' forwards got on the scoresheet, but despite losing Darius Vassell and Martin Laursen to first half injuries, Villa staged an astonishing fightback.

Carlton Cole came off the bench to replace Vassell, who injured his ankle, while Gareth Barry dropped into defence following Laursen's departure and Nolberto Solano's introduction.

The two Villa substitutes swung the balance of the match in Villa's favour as Cole "bullied" the Southampton defence in the words of their manager Harry Redknapp.

And Solano's neat control and vision created the required openings for Villa to score. The Peruvian winger set-up Cole to pull one back in the 55th minute before equalising after a 70th minute corner broke kindly for him at the back post.

With the hosts now in complete disarray, Villa pushed for a winner which was delivered by Steven Davis 18 minutes from time.

The Northern Ireland international played the ball out to Ulises de la Cruz on the right flank before bursting into the area where he met the right-back's cross with a first time finish which squeezed through Antti Niemi's legs.

All three Villa goals were in front of the 3,000-odd visiting fans who were practically delirious at the end, while the visitors' players embraced each other on the pitch.

After numerous away defeats in recent times, the supporters made sure they enjoyed this occasion.

It was only Villa's fourth away win this season - following other victories at Bolton Wanderers and Portsmouth - but all of them have been dramatic.

Given Villa were 2-0 down early on at Southampton and seemed certain for defeat, this was probably the most memorable.

After a dire opening period, Villa regained their poise and O'Leary's players showed admirable tenacity to salvage anything from the game.

Although it was Solano and Cole who did most of the damage to Saints, Villa's defence contributed just as much to the victory.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, seeming back to his best after a loss of form, made several excellent saves to prevent Southampton running amok in the first half.

And the back four, who ended up with Jlloyd Samuel partnering Mark Delaney in the middle and Gareth Barry at left-back, were steadfast after the interval.

O'Leary said: "Full credit to the players, we were already struggling at the back, before losing Martin Laursen at half-time.

"That meant we were playing with four full-backs in defence but to come back showed a lot of character. It could have been more comprehensive in the end. Carlton should have made it 4-2 with a great chance late on.

"When that didn't go in, I worried that we'd get a repeat of last week against West Bromwich Albion when they equalised in the lastminute. But that didn't happen and this is a great three points."

With Saints in the relegation zone below Albion, Villa also did their Midland neighbours a significant turn.

Villa must now hope Bryan Robson's team repay the favour when they visit Tottenham Hotspur, who are also chasing a Uefa Cup spot, on Wednesday.

Scorers: Phillips (4) 1-0, Crouch (13) 2-0, Cole (55) 2-1, Solano (70) 2-2, Davis (72) 2-3.

Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi, Delap, Lundekvam, Jakobsson (Davenport 45), Bernard, Telfer (Camara 74), Redknapp, Quashie, Anders Svensson (Le Saux 63), Crouch, Phillips. Subs not used: Smith, Higginbotham.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen, De la Cruz, Delaney, Laursen (Solano 45), Samuel, Hendrie, Hitzlsperger, Davis, Barry, Vassell (Cole 36), Angel (Moore 77). Subs not used: Postma, Berson.

Refereee: A D'Urso (Essex). Bookings: Southampton - Redknapp (foul); Villa - Hendrie (dissent), Barry (foul). Attendance: 31,926.

Villa man-of-the-match: Nolberto Solano - turned the game for Villa.