Manolo Gabbiadini’s superb late volley earned Saints an important point away to Burnley this evening.
The visitors had taken the lead through Ashley Barnes’ 67th minute effort, with the Englishman bundling home from close range.
The match will not live long in the memory, but it does see Saints move up to 16th in the table, albeit on goal difference.
To say that the first half was drab would be downplaying it some, given the sheer lack of entertainment on display.
Neither team looked lively, and there was little to get excited in terms of goalmouth action. Aaron Lennon hit a tenth minute volley straight to Alex McCarthy, but the hosts looked short of confidence and offered little.
Burnley set up to keep it tight, and Southampton were happy to oblige their opposition by adopting Burnley’s long ball approach.
Guido Carillo did well as a target man, but Saints hardly threatened - Dusan Tadic’s 12 minute poke towards goal aside. The Serb was fed by a cute Nathan Redmond reverse pass, with Ben Mee making a good goal line clearance. 26 minutes in, and it was Redmond firing off a shot from the edge of the Clarets’ area - with Nick Pope down well to make the save.
Oriol Romeu was on hand to block Lennon’s shot after the English winger was found well following good work down the wing from Ashley Barnes.
Saints started the second 45 on the front foot, with Tadic selling one of his trademark dummies and putting a cross in that was met by no one.
Ryan Bertrand had a penalty claim rightly turned down two minutes following the restart, knocking the ball beyond the Burnley defence but making a meal of minimal contact.
McCarthy looked assured between the Southampton sticks, commanding his area well and coming off his line to punch the ball away on a couple of corners. Barnes headed Ashley Westwood’s cross wide an hour in, and put his side ahead just seven minutes later, beating McCarthy do a second ball.
Lennon found himself in space on the left wing, and hit a cross to the back post that was met by Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. McCarthy saved well, with Jeff Hendrick able to steer the rebound towards goal. McCarthy looked to have it covered, only for Barnes to bravely steal in ahead of the Saints goalie and bundle the ball home from a couple of yards out.
Mauricio Pellegrino responded by throwing Josh Sims on for James Ward-Prowse, and he had an instant impact. The Saints Starlet was brilliantly denied by Pope in the 73rd minute, firing an effort towards the top corner of the goal after being played in brilliantly by Guido Carillo. Unluckily for Saints, Pope got the slightest of touches to deny Sims.
Pope was on hand again to deny Jack Stephens’ weak header from a cross seconds later, with Sims taking a couple more pop shots from target that flew well wide.
Saints looked dead and buried as the game wore on, with McCarthy lucky to escape punishment when he appeared to handle the ball outside of the box after racing off his line.
Pellegrino left it late, but threw on Sofiane Boufal and Gabbiadini for Romeu and Tadic, and it was the Italian who rescued the point in the ninetieth minute.
Sims crossed from the right, with Carillo meeting it brilliantly at the back post, heading the ball down to Gabbiadini. The Italian took the ball on the bounce, setting himself up for the volley and smashing the ball home on the turn.
Saints, while turning in a below par performance, didn’t deserve to lose this game and should head into their crunch tie at home to Stoke next week out of the relegation zone and with a little more confidence.
Fans have been crying out for Pellgrino to play youngsters like Sims and Jake Hesketh, as well as Gabbiadini and Carillo together up top. With their late spark came from those three, it will be interesting to see if the manager changes tact for an vital run of games that will decide Saints’ Premier League fate.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Long, Mee, Ward; Cork, Hendrick, Westwood, Lennon, Barnes; Gudmundsson.
Subs: Lindegaard, Taylor, Bardsley, Marney, Nkoudou, Vokes, Wood
SaintsFC: McCarthy; Cédric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand (c); Lemina, Romeu (Boufal 75); Ward-Prowse (Sims 68), Tadić (Gabbiadinni 81), Redmond; Carrillo.
Subs: Forster, Højbjerg, Gabbiadinni, Bednarek, Pied, McQueen, Sims.