Russell Martin hailed Southampton’s resilience after a last-gasp Ched Evans own goal secured them a valuable 2-2 draw at Preston.
Goals from Milutin Osmajic and Brad Potts in three second-half minutes set Preston on course for victory until Evans diverted a 96th-minute corner into his own net while under pressure from Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Kyle Walker-Peters had put Southampton ahead in the first half and Martin was pleased with their performance, despite the need for a late equaliser.
“It’s frustrating that we’ve had to pretty much rely on a late goal to get a point, but I’m really happy with the way we’ve performed over the 90 minutes,” he said.
“It’s a dramatic one I know, but the two 10-minute periods either side of half-time have cost us in the end.
“We needed to defend our box much better, but when they scored twice pretty quickly it seemed to energise Preston and their fans and that didn’t help our situation.
“I can’t be unhappy with the performance overall and I won’t criticise the players, because we’ve had to make changes again tonight and the lads who came in were great.
“The lads showed plenty of resilience throughout and I was proud with the way they kept going right until the end.
“There will be question marks about certain selections over the next few days, but considering those changes we’ve been having to make, we’re still on a decent run.”
Southampton are fifth in the table following the result, while Preston are one spot above and one point better off despite their winless run extending to six games.
They travel to face Hull on Saturday and manager Ryan Lowe admits he has to pick his players up from the blow of conceding so late.
“First and foremost I’m really proud of the boys,” he said.
“We had to change the shape at half-time and then in the second half we’ve stuck to the gameplan really well.
“It’s a sucker punch at the end, but I’ve no complaints about that one. We should have seen the game out by that stage.
“I’ve had to lift the lads up, they’re all disappointed because we were worthy of getting the three points.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up for another big game at the weekend now.
“The Championship is a rocky road, there’s always lots of ups and downs, but I never get too frustrated any more because I know the players always give me 100 per cent effort and application.
“We’ve got a squad we can rotate and everyone knows they have to keep performing.”