Jack Stephens second goal in as many games cancelled out Glenn Murray’s early penalty as struggling duo Saints and Brighton shared the spoils on the south coast in a match I attended. It’s a result that does little to aid either side in their battle against the drop, but Albion move up a place to 15th with Mauricio Pellegrino’s side still in the bottom three.
A draw was probably the fairest outcome from a derby clash in which Saints started slowly but despite their pressure and dominance in the second half, they were unable to force victory as their winless league run extended to a twelfth game.
The Seagulls, attacking towards their magnificent vocal backing, carved out the first chance inside a minute when Solly March linked up with Murray to find Jose Izquierdo, but the Colombian was wastefully off target with his effort when well placed.
Oriol Romeu went close with a header at the other end, but Brighton took a crucial lead in the 14th minute when March – impressive throughout – went down under a challenge from Wesley Hoedt. Top scorer Murray, who scored the winner at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Saturday, again made no mistake from the spot for his ninth goal of the season.
Ryan Bertrand flashed a shot over the bar from distance, before Brighton had a remarkable let-off. Goalkeeper Matthew Ryan’s attempted clearance was charged down by Pierre – Emile Hojbjerg, but the ball cannoned off the crossbar and bounced to safety. Shane Long was thwarted by Shane Duffy’s superb lunging challenge on the rebound, before Stephens headed over from the resultant corner.
Saints introduced the twin threats of Sofiane Boufal and new signing Guido Carrillo at the interval, and it was a change that reaped dividends as the hosts quickly upped the ante and began to take charge.
Stephens headed wide from eight yards after James Ward – Prowse had picked him out, but he was not to be denied shortly after the hour mark as the pair linked up again to deadly effect. From a free-kick wide on the left, Ward – Prowse fizzed in a delivery and Stephens flicked the ball through a posse of players and inside the far post beyond an unsighted Ryan.
Carrillo tried his luck with a 30 yarder, and Manolo Gabbiadini was then introduced as a fresh foil for the debutant Argentine as Saints chased the elusive winner in the closing stages.
Brighton forced a flurry of corners and loan signing Leonardo Ulloa – back for his second spell at The Amex – had a header saved late on by Alex McCarthy in a rare counter-attack for the visitors. A winner was not forthcoming though, and both sides had to settle for a point each that does little to help their survival prospects.
Line ups and player ratings
Southampton (4-2-3-1): McCarthy 6; Cedric 6 Stephens 7 Hoedt 7 Bertrand 6; Romeu 5 (Boufal 45, 7), Hojbjerg 6; Ward-Prowse 8*, Davis 7, Tadic 6 (Carrillo 45, 7); Long 6 (Gabbiadini 79, 6).
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-1-1): Ryan 6; Schelotto 6 Duffy 7 Dunk 7 Bong 7; March 7, Stephens 6, Propper 6, Izquierdo 5; Gross 6 (Kayal 82, 5); Murray 7 (Ulloa 77, 6).
Man of the match: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)