There once was a time when Southampton would regularly reach this time of the year, stir and stretch, and escape from whatever relegation tangle they had worked themselves into during the course of the winter.
These feats of escapology featured an assorted cast but often led by Matt Le Tissier, whose goals and assists would garner points from the most unlikely places to lift the Saints above the dotted line by the end of the season.
By the time they had fought back from 3-1 down to rescue a point against Tottenham, that same irrepressibility was back in the air by the Solent, and the name of interim boss Ruben Selles was ringing around St Mary’s.
For Le Tissier, read James Ward-Prowse, overlooked by England this week but leading the fight, holding his nerve from the spot to beat former teammate and neighbour Fraser Forster in the 90th minute, finding the top corner.
“There was a lot of pressure,” said Ward-Prowse. “I know Fraser very well. He used to be my next-door neighbour so I’ve taken 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 penalty deep into added time as Southampton came from behind to draw 3-3 with Tottenham
Having missed twice from the spot in previous games the Southampton captain stepped up to secure the point for his side
The Saints remain at the bottom of the Premier League table but showed plenty of fight to stay in the game late on and take a point
Others played their parts in this unlikely point. Theo Walcott, remember him? Spurs fans certainly did. They booed the former Arsenal winger from the outset but this did not stop him scoring his first goal for nearly two years, Southampton’s second to rekindle hope at 3-2.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, another ex-Arsenal man jeered from the away end, came on when Saints lost both first-choice central-halves to injuries in the first half. He deputised in the heart of defence against Harry Kane, and popped up at the other end to win the penalty converted by Ward-Prowse.
All of which came as a shock to Tottenham and caused considerable damage their top four hopes. Antonio Conte celebrated as if he thought the points were safe when Ivan Perisic’s first Spurs goal gave them a 3-1 lead with 16 minutes remaining.
Earlier, Pedro Porro had celebrated his first for the club, the first of the game in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Harry Kane restored the lead for the visitors following an equaliser by Che Adams, the first Saints striker to score in the Premier League since the World Cup and a goal to trigger a frantic second half.
Richarlison (L) was one of four players to be substituted before the break due to injury with both sides losing two players
January signing Pedro Porro opened the scoring just before the break with a well-taken finish from inside the box
Harry Kane had scored the second goal for the visitors to make it 2-1 on 65 minutes with his 12th career goal against Southampton
Southampton have only managed to score three times in a single match twice this season after Saturday’s comeback
Ivan Perisic opened his scoring account for Tottenham with a well-taken volley from the edge of the box to make it 3-1
The first half was disrupted by injuries. First Richarlison pulled up injured and went off is distress with the collar of his shirt pulled up over his face. It is the third significant injury setback of the season for the Brazilian.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Southampton (4-4-2): Bazunu 6; Walker-Peters 6.5, Bednarek 6 (Maitland-Niles 34 min, 6), Bella-Kotchap (Salisu 8, 6.5), Perraud 6; S.Armstrong 6 (Alcaraz 70, 6.5), Ward-Prowse 7.5, Lavia 7, Elyounoussi 6 (Sulemana 70, 6); Walcott 8, Adams 6.5 (Mara 70, 7).
Subs: McCarthy, A.Armstrong, Onyachu, Diallo.
Goals: Adams 46, Walcott 77, Ward-Prowse 90 (pen)
Manager: Ruben Selles 7.5
Spurs (3-4-3): Forster 6.5; Romero 6, Dier 6, Lenglet 6; Porro 7 (Royal 86), Skipp 7, Hojbjerg 6.5, Davies 6 (Perisic 37, 6.5); Richarlison (Kulusevski 5, 7 (Sarr 86)), Kane 7, Son 6.
Subs: Austin, Sanchez, Danjuma, Tanganga, Moura
Goals: Porro 45+1, Kane 65, Perisic 74
Manager: Antonio Conte 7
Ref: Simon Hooper 6.5
Southampton’s Armel Bella-Kotchap followed him off, almost immediately, gingerly holding his right forearm with his left hand. With less than eight minutes on the clock, it was the earliest that both teams had made a change in a Premier League game, according to Opta.
Two more fell before the interval. Jan Bednarek required a long spell of treatment and tried to continue before going off in pain. Ben Davies was hurt and gave way to Perisic.
In and around all this, the game was even with flurries of activity at both ends but neither goalkeeper overworked. Eric Dier glanced a header wide from cross by Dejan Kulusevski following a short corner routine, and right wing-back Porro proved a constant attacking threat Tottenham.
Twice Porro fired shots over and one of his crosses picked out Son Heung-min who miscued his attempted volley.
The Son and Porro combination produced the opener. The Korean was the provider with a pass to tempt Porro forward once more on the right. Driving forward into the penalty box, the Spaniard finished in confident fashion, high past Saints ‘keeper Gavin Bazunu and in off the bar.
Southampton were level within a minute of the restart. Romeo Lavia released Walcott and he squared to Adams, who tapped in from close range, his first Premier League goal since November.
This energised the crowd and confidence flooded back into the home team. Suddenly, they passed and they moved with fluency. Kyle Walker-Peters fizzed a cross across goal and Ward-Prowse swerved a free kick over from a position where he can be more punishing.
Still, Spurs were dangerous on the counter attack. Kane fired over by way of a reminder and then found the net, drifting behind Maitland-Niles and heading in at the back post from a deep, teasing cross by Kulusevski.
The penalty was given inside the additional five minutes at St. Mary’s to give Southampton a chance at a comeback
Pep Matar Sarr was penalised for a clumsy challenge on Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the penalty area prior to a VAR check
Spurs’ 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 drew the home side level within 60 seconds of the first half from close range after a flowing passing move
Former Arsenal star Theo Walcott scored Southampton’s second goal of the game to make it 3-2 and set up a tense finish
Perisic stretched the lead with a sweet volley but Saints responded with Forster making a flying save from Maitland-Niles before Walcott pounced for in his first goal for almost two years from a nod-down by substitute Sekoe Mara.
Forster made a double save from Mara but could not extend his heroics to save the penalty, a soft one, conceded by Pape Sarr for a kick on Maitland-Niles. Sarr went to clear a bouncing ball but Maitland-Niles nipped in first and happily made the most of it when he felt the boot hit his calf.
Referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot, the VAR Tony Harrington backed his call and Ward-Prowse fired it into the top corner. Southampton are still bottom with 10 to play but a point from nowhere and more signs of fighting spirit gives them reason to believe.
To re-live the action as it happened in Southampton’s stunning comeback, click HERE.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk