Saints moved off the bottom of the table with what proved to be a frustrating draw with Swansea at St Mary’s.
Prior to the contest, the match was billed as one for the purists, and the easy on the eye style certainly provided some neat football, though none too effective as the two sides went in goalless at the break.
A fired up Saints got on top as the match approached the hour mark and they were duly rewarded for their efforts when birthday boy Morgan Schneiderlin kept his cool inside the Swansea area to head home his second goal of the season to ease the anxious faces around the ground.
Nigel Adkins’ men seemed likely to add to their lead, but for the second home game running, a Saints old boy came back to haunt them as Nathan Dyer came off the bench to rattle in an equaliser past Paulo Gazzaniga less than ten minutes after the hosts had got in front.
Despite a late surge, a combination of Swansea’s dogged defence, and some frustrating calls from the match officials meant that Saints were denied a second home success of the campaign.
Saints: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw (Fox 73), Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Puncheon, Ramirez, Lambert. Subs (not used): K. Davis, Hooiveld, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Rodriguez, Mayuka.
Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies, Britton (Schechter 65), de Guzman (Agustien 85), Ki Sung-Yong, Hernandez, Routledge (Dyer 56), Michu. Subs (not used): Cornell, Tate, Tiendalli, Moore.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Jack Cork and Jason Puncheon returned to the starting line-up, with the former making his first appearance of the season. There was also a full debut for left back Luke Shaw, who became Saints’ youngest ever Premier League player at 17 years of age.
Swansea winger Dyer started on the bench for the opponents, whilst another former Saints man Garry Monk made his 250th appearance for the Welsh side.
There was a minute’s silence which was impeccably observed ahead of kick-off, held in honour of All Saints Day and Remembrance weekend.
The Swans, in all white, got the match underway, with Saints attacking the Northam stand on a clear and mild day inside St Mary’s.
Both sides’ intentions to pass the ball around were evident in the opening exchanges, with a rare long pass from Luke Shaw in the sixth minute greeted with an ironic shout of ‘hoof’ from the supporters, who had been treated to some stylish play early doors.
Saints looked to use their threat from set plays, winning two corners inside the opening ten minutes which caused the visitors some problems, with Swans defender Ashley Williams in the right place to clear the danger.
In the eleventh minute, the hosts strung together a neat move down the left side which resulted in Morgan Schneiderlin firing over Gerhard Tremmel’s crossbar, which preceded the Swansea ‘keeper’s first save of the match on 14 when he dived impressively to his right to deny Lallana’s fiercely struck shot on the turn form Lambert’s knockdown.
The chances were becoming more frequent for the home side, as moments later Ramirez curled a fine effort a matter of inches wide of the left post.
At the other end, Ki Sung-Yong tested Paulo Gazzaniga at his near post with a thunderbolt from a tight angle that won the visitors a corner, but clear opportunities from the Welsh side remained at a premium.
Ramirez again went close with a strike from the edge of the box which came after Shaw had helped Saints out of trouble inside their own half, having lost possession from a free-kick in the middle of the park.
Schnedierlin was the first name to go into referee Andre Marriner’s notebook for his late challenge on Leon Britton, the fourth time the Frenchamn had been cautioned in the current campaign.
That was quickly followed up by a yellow for Swansea’s Ashley Williams who shoved Ramirez to the floor on 35. The Uruguayan dusted himself down to deliver a clever free-kick towards Fonte at the far post, but the defender couldn’t work Tremmel from the narrow angle.
Saints followed up three minutes alter with a quick break from a free-kick awarded on halfway which saw Lallana bundled to the ground by Angel Rangel inside the area, but the penalty decision he craved would have appeared harsh on the visitors from replays.
Lallana wasn’t far away from breaking the deadlock himself through an ambitious strike from the left side of the area, but although competitive, the game remained goalless at the end of the opening 45 minutes.
Half Time: Saints 0-0 Swansea
Despite a more cagey start to the second period, Saints had the better of the play, with Lallana industrious down the left side, but unable to work Tremmel.
The Swans went up a gear on 55 when Rangel, Hernandez and Routledge combined for the latter to strike over the bar from a central position.
That was to be the winger’s final involvement as he was then replaced by former Saints man Nathan Dyer in a like-for-like change.
Saints immediately went back on the front foot, and Lambert was unfortunate not to have a strike at goal when he latched on to Schneiderlin’s flick inside the box, before Ramirez and Lambert linked up again moments later, only for some steely Swans defending to deny them an opportunity.
In their next attack, Saints thought they had won a penalty when Lambert nodded on a terrific flick to Lallana who was hauled to ground as he tried to turn the ball home past Tremmel.
Frustratingly, the match official gave nothing to Lallana who was harshly booked for the fall, when a spot kick looked justified.
The hosts need not have feared though as they deservedly forced their way in front in the 64th minute. An angled ball back across the Swans 18 yard area was controlled and subsequently headed home into the corner by SCHNEIDERLIN who claimed his second goal of the season in front of the Chapel stand.
Swansea withdrew Leon Brotton, with Itay Schechter his replacement in the aftermath of the breakthrough goal.
Further good link up from Clyne, Ramirez and Puncheon was unfortunate not to yield a second Saints strike, and the breathing space the hosts wanted never came.
And they paid the price on 72 when the visitors levelled up by capitalising on a defensive slip form Yoshida that allowed substitute DYER to pick the bottom corner via the far post.
Danny Fox replaced Luke Shaw to add some more energy to the backline in the final quarter of an hour or so with Saints determined to regain their advantage.
The chances began to fall again with Lambert heading wide from a corner by Ramirez before Cork struck over on the volley, and then Lambert once more was denied by Tremmel.
Lallana was then fouled inside the area, but yet again his shouts for a spot kick fell on deaf ears of the official, who infuriated the home support with his decision making.
On 85 de Guzman was replaced by Kemy Agustien for the visitors with both teams going for the jugular in a tense climax to the game.
As three minutes of stoppage time went up Saints won a corner which Tremmel punched clear, but with the visitors now playing for the whistle, it proved to be a frustrating end to a hard fought contest.
Full Time: Saints 1-1 Swansea