Verdict: West Brom 1 Saints 1
Nigel Pearson made two changes to the starting line up after the home defeat to Burnley last weekend. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Mario Licka dropped to the bench with John Viafara and Marek Saganowski coming into the team at right midfield and upfront respectively.
Despite Vignal and Ostlund being fit, Pearson decided to continue with make-shift full backs Jermaine Wright and Andrew Surman in defence. Elsewhere youngster Adam Lallana was given a place on the bench after impressing for the reserves in recent weeks.
First half stalemate
West Brom began the game all guns blazing being encouraged to attack by the expectant home crowd. James Morrison was the first to have an effort but his shot from just out the area was well wide of the far post.
Stern John had Saints first sight of goal after some decent build up. He chested the ball down but it didn't fall quick enough and the shot was snatched comfortably wide.
The home side began to push forward first Greening fired a foot over from twenty five yards with a stinging drive and after a neat passage of play between Koran and Gera the former broke down the right to cross to ex-Saint Kevin Phillips who somehow put the ball over from four yards out. His blushes were spared though as the offside flag was up.
But Saints battled away hard and carved out a first real opening as the half time break approached. Jason Euell played a clever one-two with Stern John setting him free down the left. His cross into the middle was slightly behind Saganowski, but the Pole desperate for a goal managed to get a touch on it.
The ball appeared to strike Albion centre back Neil Clements hands before Saganowski miss-hit the ball well over the bar. After seeing replays it was a case of 'I've seen them given'.
Back came the Albion again this time Koren getting free down the left, his cross to near post ricocheted off Jermaine Wright and Richard Wright did superbly well to throw himself at the feet of Kevin Phillips as he looked to pounce.
Second half drama
The Baggies came out firing after the break clearly determined to seal promotion with a home win. Ishmael Miller came close with two attempts; firstly after collecting the ball wide right he out paced Surman and with a fantastic piece of footwork took the ball past Safri, but his low near post drive was well saved by Wright.
Miller was merely inches away from giving his side the lead as his effort from the edge of the area was blocked by Perry and span just wide of the post.
It was all one way traffic by this stage with Saints clinging on defending well and containing the most prolific scorers in the league. Phillips was again guilty of missing putting a far post header well over, despite this he was always leaning back.
Nigel Pearson decided he needed to freshen up proceedings with fifteen minutes to go, making a double swap to add more pace up front to give us a chance to catch the attacking home side on the break. Teenager Adam Lallana and Bradley Wright-Phillips replaced John and Saganowski.
However, their first job was to defend as a long free kick was headed back across goal by Gera looking to give Phillips the simplest of tap-ins but Richard Wright had other ideas. The on-loan stopper flung himself towards the ball and the Albion striker making a fantastic save at point blank range.
Saints first effort of the second half came on seventy six minutes. Good link up play and movement between all three Saints substitutes saw Dyer pop the ball through to Lallana in space but his effort was straight at Kiely.
However, minutes later as the midfield began to string a few passes together Jhon Viafara's missed control left the ball for Jermaine Wright who released Lallana with a fantastic defence splitting past. Bursting through the home defence Lallana looked up but he was alone, he put his head down and fired a low precision drive right inside the post sending the away fans onto cloud nine.
The home side began to throw everything they could at the Saints defence. Firstly Neil Clement put a free header from a corner into the ground and it bounced over the bar and from another corner Luke Moore headed over.
The Baggies pressure tolled though and after Gera's cross from the right wasn't cut out by the Saints defence the ball fell for Brunt on the edge of the area and his low hard drive beat an unsighted Richard Wright. The fulltime whistle sparked the celebrations for the home side as the fans raced onto the pitch.
Had I'd been offered a point before the match I would have taken it, but after coming so close there was a down heartened feeling at the end. The team played with so much fight and determination and defended manfully.
The veteran Chris's at the back once again impressed winning more than their fair share in the air and willing to put their bodies on the line by blocking when they could.
Richard Wright deserves a special mention coming to our aid many times over the course of the game. He had to be alert at times making sure any loose ball in the box was his. The makeshift fullbacks did ok in the circumstances. Surman in particular was looking to get forward when he could but this was often limited due to the home sides attacking threats.
This result although not being the one we wanted does give us hope and puts those around us under pressure. Now there are five teams in with a chance of the drop and it all goes down to the final day. The players will need no motivation for the final game, a battle against a team we beat away with a good gritty performance, and how we could do with that again at a sold out St Mary's.
I would just like to thank the fans who made the trip to the Hawthorns, great vocal support as always let's hope we can replicate that next week and sing our boys over the safety line.