For Graham Potter and Brighton, a wonderful sense of deja vu. Down to 10 men following injury to Leandro Trossard and well into 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time, Neal Maupay rattled in a second late equaliser in four days to rescue another point for Brighton.
Potter, as in midweek, was out of substitutes when Trossard was forced off with an elbow problem but just as it seemed defeat was inevitable, Maupay rifled in from close range to hush the Southampton support.
A blue flare flew on to the corner of the pitch from the away end and Southampton, whose disconsolate players slumped to the floor at full-time, ended up being booed off. It was not how Ralph Hasenhüttl hoped to mark his three-year anniversary in charge. Hasenhüttl’s biggest gripe was with Alex McCarthy, blasting his goalkeeper for not telling him he was struggling with a hamstring injury that prevented him from jumping and hampered Southampton’s hopes of holding on for victory. They have now dropped 71 points in the past three years, 15 more than any other team. James Ward-Prowse, in an attempt to cover for his goalkeeper, inadvertently played Maupay onside when Brighton recycled Jakub Moder’s free-kick.
“Alex must definitely be more professional and this is what I missed today,” a livid Hasenhüttl said. “This is something we cannot accept. There must be a message and then we can make a change. I still had one change in hand and I can change the goalkeeper if necessary. It is the reason we have a goalkeeper on the bench. If he’s not able to jump, we should change him. We have to learn from this and in the future be more honest.”
Hasenhüttl expects McCarthy to miss next Saturday’s trip to Arsenal and the back-up Fraser Forster is also sidelined, meaning Harry Lewis, who is yet to make a first-team appearance for the club, is his only fit goalkeeper.
Hasenhüttl was apoplectic but McCarthy had kept Southampton in the game, denying Maupay with 13 minutes of normal time to play after the striker was picked out by Aaron Connolly. Maupay made no mistake in the eighth minute of stoppage time to earn Brighton a ninth draw in 11 matches.
“There’s a great spirit with the players,” Potter said. “We have belief as a team. The one thing I don’t doubt is their willingness to keep going until the end.”
Southampton led through Armando Broja but while the on-loan Chelsea striker continued his impressive scoring run after nonchalantly twisting inside Shane Duffy before finishing with the outside of his boot – his third league goal in four starts – a draw felt like a defeat, with Southampton left kicking themselves for squandering another lead.
Broja should have doubled their advantage five minutes after the interval but scuffed wide after latching on to Tino Livramento’s cross. Livramento and Che Adams also passed up first-half chances and Southampton faded in the second half. A naivety ended up undoing Southampton’s good work. “When you’re so stupid in the end, you don’t deserve three points,” Hasenhüttl said.
Brighton tested McCarthy in the first half through Enock Mwepu and Trossard, whose elbow injury, Potter said, was not as bad as first feared. The visitors may have been one-man light heading into stoppage time but they continued to probe and in the eighth added minute, Oriol Romeu clipped Yves Bissouma on the edge of the box, allowing Brighton to find another leveller. Moder’s free-kick cannoned off the wall but the Poland midfielder recycled the ball back into the area, locating Maupay a few yards out.
Maupay, not for the first time this season, was the name on the lips of supporters long after the final whistle. The striker emerged from the tunnel for his post-match interviews to a hero’s reception from a couple of hundred delirious fans. “We have one big strength this season,” Maupay said. “We never give up.”