Saints earned a hard fought point at St James’ Park thanks to Jay Rodriguez’s seventh goal of the season.
Rodriguez struck in the 65th minute of a fiercely contested match with the Magpies which showed how little there was to choose between the two teams.
The visitors trailed 1-0 at the break to Yoan Gouffran’s strike midway through the opening 45, as he pounced on a loose ball inside the area to keep his calm to roll the ball past Paulo Gazzaniga.
Mauricio Pochettino felt it necessary to inject a pair of fresh sparks into the team for the second half with Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana introduced to the action, and the changes had the desired effect as Saints were much stronger from then on.
The equaliser arrived at a time when Saints were on top in the game, and although they survived a scare when Loic Remy fired wide from a one-on-one situation with Gazzaniga, it was little surprise to see the lowest scorers at home and away in the league, end the game level with a low scoring draw.
Southampton manager Pochettino made two changes to from the team that started against Manchester City last time out. Jos Hooiveld and Rickie Lambert came back into the starting eleven with the latter captaining the side.
Lambert took on the skipper’s armband as Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte were both named on the bench. Dani Osvaldo partnered Lambert in attack, which meant that Jay Rodriguez started out wide on the left, with James Ward-Prowse on the other flank.
Morgan Schneiderlin returned to the squad from injury, but was only fit enough to start from the bench. Harrison Reed dropped out at the expense of the Frenchman.
Artur Boruc, Kelvin Davis, Danny Fox, Victor Wanyama and Nathaniel Clyne all remained out through injury.
Saints got the game underway, defending the Gallowgate end with Dani Osvaldo and Rickie Lambert getting the contest started for the visitors, who lined up in their red and white strip on an overcast afternoon at St James’ Park.
Hosts Newcastle won themselves a corner in the opening minute of the match which Vurnon Anita delivered into the Saints area, and Paulo Gazzaniga watched it the whole way before gathering for a comfortable first touch of the day.
That was to be the first of three corners to go the way of the home side within the opening five minutes of play. Only the latter of those was used effectively, with the delivery from the left floated out to the edge of the area, where full-back Mathieu Debuchy angled a first-time volley wide of Gazzaniga’s right post.
A solid defensive opening to the game from Saints and an assuredness in possession saw players interchange positions with ease, with Cork dropping deep to allow a fluid movement throughout the team.
However, Saints were almost undone in the eleventh minute when a run from Yoan Gouffran down the right saw the wide man pounce on a hesitation between Cork and Gazzaniga. The ball was quickly cut back across for Loic Remy, whose shot from ten yards out was cleared from the line by a perfectly positioned Calum Chambers as the visitors survived a brief scare.
Some further neat passing through the middle from Saints resulted with Lambert and Osvaldo linking up to tee up Ward-Prowse from distance, but the teenager’s low shot was gathered easily by Tim Krul.
A corner delivery from Ward-Prowse soon after was hurried clear by the Magpies, with Saints sensing an opportunity to test the hosts’ backline.
The visitors continued to do just that with Osvaldo and Rodriguez in the thick of things around the area with Cork pulling the strings behind them. Cork was then involved at the other end to break up Newcastle’s next attack as the high intensity nature of the contest stepped up a gear after the 20 minute mark.
The competitiveness of the contest saw play broken up by a series of stoppages, so a free-kick awarded just inside the Saints half appeared fairly innocuous, but would lead the hosts to the opening goal of the game on 28 minutes.
Debuchy sent the delivery onto the edge of the area on the left side where the ball was nodded into the area by Mike Williamson, and a loose touch from a red shirt in there, saw Yoan GOUFFRAN nip in and take the ball around Gazzaniga before rolling home into the empty net for a routine finish that put Newcastle 1-0 up.
Another arching delivery from a set piece saw Shola Ameobi plant a header towards goal but Gazzaniga was under it to keep the hosts at bay from getting another in quick succession.
Newcastle were then awarded a free-kick from a rather more encouraging position to shoot from, and Davide Santon duly obliged from range, but the full-back’s strike cleared the bar, and then some, in the 34th minute.
Gazzaniga made a good, low block to halt Moussa Sissoko’s break into the area on the left, before Saints earned a respite at the other end when Lambert won the visitors a corner, but Saints couldn’t take full advantage as the hosts cleared.
They came back again though when Steven Davis played a superb ball through to Lambert, but the frontman’s cross into the area escaped everyone inside the box.
The game opened out further towards the break, with Saints pushing for a late leveller in the half, but Newcastle kept their slender lead heading into the interval.
HALF-TIME: NEWCASTLE 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Pochettino made a double change at half-time with both Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin entering the action in a bid to create a new spark in attack. Dani Osvaldo and James Ward-Prowse made way for the duo.
The second 45 took a little while to warm up, but Saints were creative, and going forward, with Rodriguez a whisker away from connecting to a dinked ball into the area which just needed a cute finish to beat Krul, but the ball got away from the club’s top scorer.
At the other end, Remy tested Gazzaniga with a low volley towards the bottom right corner, which the Argentine glovesman got down at full stretch to collect.
Newcastle’s creativity had generally been stifled though, as they sought an advantage from set pieces. Anita’s 58th minute corner was headed wide by Shola Ameobi, before Gazzaniga was alert to keep out Gouffran’s sneaky effort from the right touchline.
The hosts withdrew Ameobi on the hour mark in favour of Papiss Cisse, a man who scored in this fixture the previous season.
Saints showed their freshness in attack when Lambert and Lallana combined to set the latter away down the right flank. The winger got all the way into the area, but his cutback towards Rodriguez was blocked and eventually cleared, by Cheick Tiote.
Cork was booked for foul on Sissoko as both teams tried to get a foothold on the play, but with Saints just being edged out in that battle through the middle.
Steven Davis then went the closest Saints had come to finding the net when his outswinging shot from range came back off the post with a ferocious shot that had beaten Krul at full stretch. Davis had collected substitute Schneiderlin’s pass before taking one touch to get the ball out of his feet to let fly.
And that was the warning that Newcastle failed to take note of, as Saints drew level again on 65 minutes.
Davis and Jay Rodriguez worked quickly together on the break with the former laying the ball calmly back into RODRIGUEZ inside the area, and the striker kept his composure to slide the ball into the bottom left corner with Krul rooted to the spot for his seventh goal of the season.
The hosts responded with Debuchy poking a chance strike from the edge of the area down towards the bottom left corner, but Gazzaniga watched it all the way to keep the ball out.
It was end-to-end from then on. First, Lambert saw his shot cannon off Tiote, and the resulting corner saw Lovren flick it onto Rodriguez, whose close range header was cleared from the line, as Newcastle breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, Newcastle had a chance again when Gazzaniga miscued a clearance that fell kindly to Remy, but the striker couldn’t guide his easiest chance of the afternoon on target as he skewed wide from inside the box.
The hosts withdrew their goal scorer Gouffran in favour of Hatem Ben Arfa for the final quarter of an hour or so, before Massadio Haidara came on in place of Santon with 12 minutes to go.
Ben Arfa’s first action saw him strike a free-kick from the right which Gazzaniga put out for a corner, before he was involved again in a move with Sissoko that resulted in another corner soon after as Newcastle sensed some momentum.
Fortunately for Saints, that didn’t materialise, though Tiote did drill in a reminder of the Magpies’ threat from distance that Gazzaniga was untroubled by.
The visitors had been much sharper in attack during the second 45, but couldn’t quite apply the finishing touch to an 85th minute move that saw Lambert almost pick out Rodriguez inside the area with a high cross that caused confusion in the hosts’ area.
Inside the last few minutes of the 90 Gazzaniga had to receive treatment for a collision with a Newcastle forward as he collected the ball, an incident which led to six minutes of stoppage time added to the clock.
Jay Rodriguez made way for another Saints Academy Premier League debut as Sam Gallagher came on to add some more presence in the Newcastle area for the remainder of what turned out to be a feisty end to the game.
Despite the blood and thunder from both teams, they couldn’t be separated as the match official drew the game to a close with the goal in each half recorded.
FULL-TIME: NEWCASTLE 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Newcastle team: Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon (Massadio Haidara 78), Mike Williamson, Mathieu Debuchy, Vurnon Anita, Moussa Sissoko, Cheick Tiote, Yoan Gouffran (Hatem Ben Arfa 73), Loic Remy, Shola Ameobi (Papiss Cisse 60)
Unused substitutes: Rob Elliot, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi
Goal: Gouffran, 28
Southampton team: Paulo Gazzaniga, Calum Chambers, Dejan Lovren, Jos Hooiveld, Luke Shaw, Jack Cork, Steven Davis, James Ward-Prowse (Morgan Schneiderlin 46), Jay Rodriguez (Sam Gallagher 90), Rickie Lambert, Dani Osvaldo (Adam Lallana 46)
Unused substitutes: Cody Cropper, Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte, Gaston Ramirez
Goal: Rodriguez, 65
Referee: Michael Jones