English Premiership

Stephens rescues point in south-coast derby

2018-02-01 07:29
Jack Stephens (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Southampton battled back from an early goal down to earn a 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Brighton in their south-coast derby at St Mary's on Wednesday.

The visitors made a bright start as they won the ball back from the kick-off and Solly March teed up Jose Izquierdo with a square pass, but the Colombian blazed over the crossbar.

Davy Propper also fired over from long range in the 10th minute, while Oriol Romeu threatened at the other end two minutes later from a corner that he headed over the target.

But the Seagulls were in the driving seat on 14 minutes when Wesley Hoedt brought down March inside the area to concede a penalty, with Murray making no mistake from 12 yards out as he sent Alex McCarthy the wrong way.

Romeu missed the target again on 24 minutes when he skied an effort from the edge of the box after latching onto James Ward-Prowse's flick, before Ezequiel Schelotto followed suit at the opposite end with a strike from distance in the 29th minute.

Matt Ryan was fortunate to see his poor clearance come back off the bar after striking Pierre Hojbjerg two minutes later, and the Albion keeper was required to save Cedric's half-volley in the 39th minute.

Both teams had a chance in the closing stages of the first half, with Murray forcing McCarthy into action with a shot on the turn following a counter on 41 minutes, before Bertrand blasted an effort well over the bar after being picked out on the edge of the area by Ward-Prowse's 43rd-minute corner.

Pellegrini made two changes at the break, bringing on Sofiane Boufal and Guido Carrillo, with both substitutes getting involved in the action.

Stephens went close with a looping header that only just missed the target from Ward-Prowse's cross in the 53rd minute, and the duo combined again to good effect 11 minutes later.

Boufal earned a free-kick with a clever flick and Ward-Prowse's low delivery was turned home by Stephens just inside the right post with the slightest of touches to equalise.

Carrillo looked to take matters into his own hands soon afterwards as he surged forward before firing over the target from distance, and Hojbjerg sent a rasping shot straight at Ryan after Izquierdo's poor clearance dropped at his feet on 69 minutes.

But despite piling the pressure on the Seagulls in the closing stages, the Saints could not break them down again and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

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