Mauricio Pellegrino defended his second half tactics as Saints let a two-goal lead slip to draw with Watford.

Saints put in a terrific first half display to give themselves a cushion at the break thanks to two well taken goals from James Ward-Prowse.

However, it all changed in the second period as Watford introduced Troy Deeney and went more direct.

Pellegrino dropped Oriol Romeu deeper to try and handle the aerial threat, and Saints struggled to press up the field, and surrendered momentum in the game.

They were eventually left ruing a late equaliser that was a handball from Abdoulaye Doucoure that was missed by the officials.

Pellegrino, though, defended his decisions.

“When you decide to play direct maybe we did something normal to put Oriol in front of the back four,” said Pellegrino.

“We don’t have somebody else to press the centre back for example because Tadic plays a little bit deep.

“Why? Because in this aspect in the physical battle they are stronger than us and you have to do it.

“We have to manage the ball when we regain it. We gave it away and couldn’t be danger in counter attack when we have possibilities.

“I think most of the time we control well the direct balls and for this reason it was hard.”

One positive from the game was the brace from Ward-Prowse.

The midfielder has long been criticised for not bringing enough goals to supplement his all-round abilities.

However, he has shown a newfound clinical streak in the penalty area.

Ward-Prowse converted what proved to be the winner in the FA Cup third round tie with Fulham, and then followed it up with the double against Watford.

“For sure, James is a player that has been fighting a lot for this presence, never giving up, always positive for the squad,” said Pellegrino.

“The goals is something that is a plus and hopefully everybody can help the team with this extra.”

There were a couple of surprises in Pellegrino’s squad.

Nathan Redmond was left at home with Pellegrino confirming simply that it was a “tactical decision.”

Also missing was Maya Yoshida, who picked up a hamstring injury.

Saints are hopeful it isn’t serious and that he will be available to face Tottenham at St Mary’s next Sunday.

“Hopefully next week he will be ready,” confirmed Pellegrino. “This is our prediction right now.

“When you are injured you know when it starts but never know when he will be ready.”