Danny Ings kept up his great season in front of goal as Southampton came from behind to earn a point at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Ings scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season to cancel out Neal Maupay’s opener as it finished honours even in this south coast derby.
The Saints had chances to take all three points, but a point for the Seagulls sees them move six clear of the bottom three with just two games to play.
Saints' Squad Rotation
Having hinted at making changes in the build-up to the game, Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made five to his starting line-up – including handing a full debut to youngster Jake Vokins.
The Saints had a good chance to break the deadlock inside five minutes when Oriel Romeu lifted the ball through to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg but Mat Ryan was equal to the midfielder’s strike from twelve yards.
Maupay then blazed over when well placed at the other end, before the Seagulls striker produced a fine finish for the game’s opening goal.
Glenn Murray was first to Tariq Lamptey’s throw and his flick found Maupay, who turned away from Jan Bednarek before firing low beyond Alex McCarthy.
Southampton looked for a response, enjoying plenty of possession without being able to break a stern Brighton defence down.
Ings saw a goal ruled out for offside, although it may have gone down as an own goal by Lamptey, otherwise, the Seagulls defence held firm in the first half.
Hasenhuttl made a double change at the break, bringing on Che Adams and Kyle Walker-Peters, and it looked to have the desired impact as the Saints looked far more aggressive going forward in the second period.
Vokins saw an ambitious effort go just wide of the post with Ryan stretching before the hosts went even closer to drawing level. Good build-up play saw Ings in space on the edge of the area, but to see his curling effort come back off the post – with Adams having his effort from the rebound blocked on the line by Lewis Dunk.
And the Saints drew level after 65 minutes. Nathan Redmond played a neat ball through to Ings, who steered clear of the Albion defence and one on one with Ryan slotted past the keeper and into the bottom corner.
At that time there only looked to be one winner – and it took an outstanding save from Ryan to prevent the hosts from going in front. Jannik Vestergaard let fly from 30 yards and with the shot looking destined for the top corner, the Aussie’s fingertips turned the ball onto the bar.
However, the Seagulls almost regained the lead with a rare breakaway. Solly March’s low cross was blocked and the ball fell to Yves Bissouma, but he pulled his effort wide from twelve yards.
Adams then saw a good opportunity go to waste with Adam Webster producing a fine block to thwart the substitute with ten minutes to go before Hojbjerg tested Ryan with a low effort from 25 yards but the keeper saved comfortably to leave both sides with a point apiece.
Saints go marching on as Brighton survive
With the Saints continuing their good form since the restart, things are certainly looking up for the St. Mary's outfit. This performance came with no less than five changes to the starting line up of recent weeks, demonstrating the signs of strength in depth with some real talent coming through the ranks.
For Brighton, a point virtually guarantees them Premier League football next season, with their defensive play much improved after some disappointing performances since they returned to action.