- Honours even in the south coast derby as Albion draw 1-1 at Southampton
- Neal Maupay reaches double figures for the season to put Seagulls in front
- Danny Ings equalises and Albion had to defend well in the second half
- Seagulls six points clear of bottom three with two to play and a better goal difference
Albion took another step towards Premier League safety with a hard-fought point at St Mary’s.
The Seagulls were deservedly ahead at the break thanks to Neal Maupay’s tenth goal of the season but Southampton hit back hard in the second half.
Danny Ings equalised and the hosts also hit the woodwork twice, while Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster made important blocks to preserve the point.
Albion now have a six-point cushion above Aston Villa and Bournemouth and a better goal difference than both rivals - so a point from their final two matches will get the job done mathematically. They are back at the Amex on Monday against Newcastle United for the final home match of the season.
Graham Potter had rung the changes with six alterations to the side beaten by Manchester City. There was a first start since February for Glenn Murray, whose penalty earned Albion a point on their last visit to St Mary’s, while Solly March was back in the starting XI for the first time since 7th March in a 3-5-2 formation.
Tariq Lamptey, Dan Burn, and top scorer Neal Maupay all returned while Dale Stephens made his 200th start for the Seagulls.
A lively start saw both teams squander good chances in the opening eight minutes.
In the fifth minute a cross-field ball found Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Holjbjerg in space inside the box but he fired straight at Maty Ryan.
Albion responded when Dan Burn’s low cross found Maupay in a great position. His first shot was blocked and he blasted the rebound over the bar but the visitors began to get on top.
Davy Propper sliced his effort from just inside the box over the target and Alex McCarthy held Leandro Trossard’s header before Albion took the lead in the 17th minute. It was a simply worked goal as Lamptey’s throw on the right was flicked on by Murray and Maupay turned to lash a left-foot shot past McCarthy.
It was a deserved reward for their positive start and while Southampton enjoyed some good spells of possession in the first quarter, Albion were organised and compact with Lamptey and March getting forward and providing width at every opportunity.
Albion haven’t lost when Maupay has scored and for the next 20 minutes or so they looked pretty comfortable before Saints roused themselves just before the break. Danny Ings thought he had scored after getting onto Nathan Redmond’s pass but was offside, then skipper Lewis Dunk made a crucial block when Ings let fly again.
Che Adams and Kyle Walker-Peters came on for Saints at the start of the second half and they upped the tempo and began to switch play nicely. A low drive from Jake Vokins skidded just past Ryan’s post and then Albion had a double let-off in the 57th minute.
Ings’ curler came back off the post to Adams, but Dunk got back onto the line to block the substitute’s close-range shot with his midriff. Ings then drilled a low ball across the face of goal which Adams was inches away from turning into the net.
Murray was replaced in the 59th minute by Aaron Mooy as Albion strengthened midfield and three minutes later Albion went close for the first time in the second half when some neat build-up ended with Leandro Trossard’s goalbound shot blocked by a defender.
But it was a rare moment of respite for Albion and Southampton deservedly levelled in the 65th minute through the deadly Ings.
The striker timed his run perfectly when Redmond threaded a pass inside Lamptey and Ings slipped his shot past Ryan for his 20th Premier League goal of the season. It was the first goal Albion had conceded on the road in more than 400 minutes.
Martin Montoya and Yves Bissouma replaced Lamptey and Propper in a double change for the Seagulls, but the visitors were now well and truly on the defensive and Ryan produced a stunning save in the 72nd minute when Jannik Vestergaard let fly from 30 yards which the keeper tipped onto the bar.
Albion had created little in the second half but they should have gone back in front in the 76th minute when March’s cross dropped to Bissouma in space 15 yards out but he dragged his shot wide. Adam Webster then bravely blocked Adams’ shot as the Saints pushed for a winner.
Pascal Gross and Alexis Mac Allister came on for Trossard and March but it was all hands to the pump for Albion in the closing stages, which included six minutes of stoppage time, but they dug deep to extend their unbeaten away sequence to six matches.
Albion: Ryan, Lamptey (Montoya 68), Dunk Webster, Burn, March (Gross 75), Stephens, Propper (Bissouma 68), Trossard (Mac Allister 75), Maupay, Murray (Mooy 59).
Subs not used: Button, Duffy, Bernardo, Connolly.
Referee: Andre Marriner.