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Saints battle back for Brighton point

Saints come from behind to draw at home to Brighton and remain in bottom two

Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Southampton came from a goal down to draw with Brighton at St Mary’s through Jack Stephens 63rd minute strike.

Brighton had gone ahead through Glenn Murray’s 14th minute spot kick after Wesley Hoedt tripped Solly March in the box.

Despite a spirited fightback, Saints sit just two points off bottom, are without a win in 12 and badly needed to take three points against a poor Brighton side.

Southampton made a shambolic start to proceedings, nearly conceding to a Brighton team who’s last away Premier League goal came well back in November.

Pascal Groß found José Izquierdo in the box, who tried to take the chance quickly when he had time, blasting over from close range. A huge let off for the home side.

Brighton Captain Lewis Dunk was on hand to deny Shane Long 12 minutes in, sliding in ahead of the Irishman to toe poke James Ward-Prowse’s excellent first time cross out for a corner. The young Englishman then delivered a superb set piece that was headed over by Oriol Romeu.

Southampton hearts were broken just a minute later after Wesley Hoedt’s clumsy trip on Solly March earned Brighton a penalty. The young midfielder collected a pass in the box, turned and was caught by Hoedt for a clear penalty that Glenn Murray dispatched, sending Alex McCarthy the wrong way.

Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Saints took a while to improve, with Brighton happy to sit deep and defend their box. For most of the first half the home team played right into the visitor’s hands with sloppy, lethargic passing.

Ward-Prowse and Ryan Bertrand were the only real threat from wide areas, putting in several good crosses that were defended well. Dunk did well to deny Long 21 minutes in, and Bertrand fired a shot over the bar moments later with Saints huffing and puffing but unable to find a way through.

Dusan Tadic and Long were unable to capitalise on a loose ball that saw Brighton goalie Matthew Ryan race off his line and Romeu blazed an effort well over the bar before the half hour mark.

Saints’ misfortune was evident throughout the match, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg closing down Ryan brilliantly only for the keeper’s clearance to bounce off the Dane and onto the bar. A clever corner routine then saw Bertrand given a clear shot at goal from the edge of Brighton’s box but the left back could only fire over with the ball bouncing up off the turf at the moment of impact.

Mauricio Pellegrino reacted by bringing on record signing Guido Carrillo and Sofiane Boufal at half time, hooking Oriol Romeu and Dusan Tadic.

Saints were very much on the front foot for the entire second half, pressuring Brighton who offered next to nothing in attacking. An early Boufal cross was spilled by Ryan with no team mate on hand to pounce, and Stephens headed wide unmarked in the box from a Ward-Prowse cross.

The young Saint did not miss when the next chance fell to him again from a Ward-Prowse set piece, flicking the ball home at the far post for his second goal in as many games.

Carillo looked lively, snapping at the Brighton defence and using his strength and size well. Saints’ record signing went close with twenty minutes to go, shrugging Shane Duffy off well and firing a shot off from distance.

The home side battled hard and dominated the second half but couldn’t find a break through. Ward-Prowse earned a free kick right on the edge of the box before smashing the free kick into the wall while Carillo could only knock down Hojbjerg’s cross with no one close enough to capitalise again.

Rather than reaching a climatic finish, the game petered out somewhat, with both goalies commanding their boxes well and neither side creating any late chances.

All in all, another vital two points dropped with Saints languishing in the relegation zone. Fail to beat West Brom at the weekend and it is hard to see how Pellegrino can stay on as Saints’ manager.

Saints: McCarthy; Cédric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand; Romeu(Boufal 46) Højbjerg; Davis (c), Ward-Prowse, Tadić (Carillo 46); Long (Gabbiadini 78).

Subs: Forster, Pied, Yoshida, Lemina, Boufal, Gabbiadini, Carrillo.

Brighton: Ryan; Bong, Dunk (c), Schelotto, Duffy; Propper, Stephens, March, Gross (Kayal 82), Izquierdo; Murray (Ulloa 76).

Subs: Krul, Kayal, Baldock, Knockaert, Ulloa, Goldson, Rosenior.