There was a time when Southampton would regularly arrive at this time of year, flipping and stretching, escaping whatever relegation tangle they had worked themselves into over the winter.
These escape flag feats featured a diverse cast but were often led by Matt Le Tissier, whose goals and assists would score points from the places most likely to lift the Saints over the dotted line by season’s end.
By the time they battled from 3-1 down to salvage a point against Tottenham, that same resistance was back in the air by the Solent, and caretaker boss Robin Seals’ name was ringing around St Mary’s.
For Le Tissier, read James Ward-Prowse, who was overlooked by England this week but led the fight, and carried his nerve from the spot to beat former teammate and neighbor Fraser Forster in the 90th minute, finding the top corner.
“There was a lot of pressure,” said Ward-Prowse. “I know Fraser really well. He used to be my next door neighbor, so I took a few penalties against him in my garden with my little boy, so we have something going on there.”
James Ward-Prowse sealed the comeback with a dramatic stoppage-time penalty as Southampton came from behind to draw 3-3 with Tottenham.
Having twice missed penalties in previous matches, the Southampton captain stepped forward to secure the point for his side
The Saints are still bottom of the Premier League table but have shown plenty of fighting to stay in the game late on and get a point
Others have played their part in this unlikely point. Theo Walcott, remember him? Tottenham fans certainly did. They booed the former Arsenal winger from the start but that didn’t stop him from scoring his first goal in nearly two years, the second goal for Southampton that revived hope with a 3-2 draw.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, another former Arsenal player who sneered at the missed end, came on when Saints lost both first-choice first-choice players to injuries in the first half. Deputizing at centre-back against Harry Kane, he emerged at the other end to win the penalty, which was converted by Ward-Prowse.
It all came as a shock to Tottenham and greatly damaged their first four hopes. Antonio Conte celebrated as if he thought the points were safe when Ivan Perisic’s first goal for Tottenham gave them a 3-1 lead with 16 minutes remaining.
Earlier, Pedro Borro celebrated his first match with the club, the first of the game in injury time at the end of the first half. Harry Kane restored the lead for the visitors after an equalizer by Che Adams, the first Saints striker to score in the Premier League since the World Cup, and a goal led to a frantic second half.
Richarlison (left) was one of four players to be substituted before the break due to injury as both teams lost players.
Pedro Borrow, the January signing, opened the scoring just before half-time with a fine finish from inside the penalty area
Harry Kane scored the visitors’ second goal to make it 2-1 in the 65th minute with his 12th career goal against Southampton.
Southampton have only managed to score three times in a game twice this season after Saturday’s comeback
Ivan Perisic opened his scoring account for Tottenham with a fine shot from the edge of the box to make it 3-1.
Injuries disrupted the first half. Richarlison was pulled injured first and emerged from the upset with his shirt collar pulled over his face. This is the third major injury setback of the season for the Brazilian.
Match facts and player ratings
Southampton (4-4-2): Pazono 6; Walker-Peters 6.5, Bednarik 6 (Maitland-Niles 34 min, 6), Bella Kochap (Salissu 8, 6.5), Peru 6; Armstrong 6 (Alcaraz 70, 6.5), Ward Bros. 7.5, Lafia 7, Al-Yunusi 6 (Suleimana 70, 6); Walcott 8, Adams 6.5 (Mara 70, 7).
Submarines: McCarthy, Armstrong, Oniacho, Diallo.
Objectives: Adams 46, Walcott 77, Ward-Prowse 90 (pencil)
boss: Robin sells 7.5
Tottenham (3-4-3): Forester 6.5; Romero 6, Abbey 6, Lenglet 6; Boro 7 (Royal 86), Skip 7, Hojbjerg 6.5, Davies 6 (Perisic 37, 6.5); Richarlison (Kolusewski 5, 7 (SAR 86)), Kane 7, son 6.
Submarines: Austin, Sanchez, Danjuma, Tanganga, Moura
Objectives: Boro 45 + 1, Kane 65, Perisic 74
boss: Antonio Conte 7
Reference: Simon Hooper 6.5
Southampton’s Armel Bela Kochab followed, almost immediately, cautiously clutching his right forearm with his left. With less than eight minutes on the clock, this was the closest the two teams have come to making a change in a Premier League match, according to Opta.
Two more fell before the interval. Jan Bednarek needed a long period of treatment and tried to continue before he was out of pain. Ben Davies was injured and made way for Perisic.
In and around all this, the game was peppered with bouts of activity at both ends but none of the goalkeepers were overworked. Eric Dier headed in wide from a cross from Dejan Kulusevski after a short corner kick, and right-back Boro proved to be a constant attacking threat for Spurs.
Boro twice fired shots over it and one of his passes picked off Son Heung-min who missed his shot attempt.
Son and Porro produced the opening line-up. It was the Korean who provided the pass to lure Boro forward again on the right. Pushing forward into the penalty area, the Spaniard finished in confident fashion, past Saints’ goalkeeper Gavin Bazuno and off the crossbar.
Southampton equalized within a minute of the restart. Romeo Lafia released Walcott and sprinted to Adams, who scored his first Premier League goal since November from close range.
This energized the crowd and confidence returned to the home team. Suddenly they passed and moved fluently. Kyle Walker-Peters fouled a cross across the goal and Ward-Prowse rolled in a free kick from a position where he could have been more punished.
However, Spurs were dangerous on the counter-attack. Kane released the ball via the recall and then found the net, drifting behind Maitland-Niles and heading to the back post from a deep cross from Kulusevski.
The penalty was awarded within the five extra minutes at St Mary’s to give Southampton a chance to come back
Pep Matar Sarr was penalized for a clumsy challenge on Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the penalty area before a VAR check.
Tottenham’s wait for a win on the road continues, having failed to do so in all competitions since the end of January in the FA Cup.
Che Adams pulled the home side level within 60 seconds of the first half from close range after a flowing passing motion
Former Arsenal star Theo Walcott scored Southampton’s second to make it 3-2 and set up a tense finish.
Perisic extended the lead with a sublime strike but Saints responded with Forrester with a save from Maitland-Niles before Walcott swooped in for his first goal in nearly two years after nodding off substitute Seko Mara.
Forster made a double save from Mara but was unable to extend his heroics to save the penalty, a soft kick that was conceded by Pape Sarr’s kick on Maitland-Niles. Sarr went to clear a rebound but Maitland-Niles kicked it in first and happily capitalized when he felt the boot hit his calf.
Referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot, VAR Tony Harrington backed his call and Ward Bruce fired it into the top corner. Southampton remain bottom with 10 to play but a point out of nowhere and more signs of fighting spirit give them reason to believe.
To relive the action as it did in Southampton’s stunning comeback, click here.
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