Rickie Lambert admitted that he felt a sense of panic when he saw Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer get a hand to his penalty that rescued a point for Saints at Craven Cottage.

The striker converted from the spot in the dying stages of the match, to cancel out Dimitar Berbatov’s early opener, after former Southampton player Chris Baird handled in the box.

Lambert’s effort was nearly saved, however, after Schwarzer guessed the right way, only for the sheer power of the shot to force it past him.

“I panicked, I honestly thought he’d saved it,” said a relieved Lambert, who has never missed a penalty for Saints. “He got a good hand on to it and it just managed to go just under the bar.

“It took me a while to realise it hit the net, but thankfully it went in.

“I fancied myself. I always fancy myself with the pens, but I didn’t quite hit it where I wanted it to go.

“I wanted it to go more in the corner, but thankfully I’ve hit it hard enough to squeeze in.”

In grim conditions, Saints struggled in terms of their performance, with Lambert assessing the display as disappointing.

But, bar an impressive opening 15 minutes, a confidence-bereft Fulham looked little better than their opponents, who did a good job of frustrating them throughout. Lambert, who now has seven goals this season, agreed that a draw was the fair result.

He said: “I think so. We’re disappointed with our performance, but I think we deserved the point. I think we were getting better as the game went on, and we looked like we were going to score whether that pen came or not.

“It’s a good point. Away to Fulham is a good point any day of the year, so we’re happy with that and we’re going into Stoke away now, which is going to be another hard game.”

With rain teeming down throughout the afternoon in west London, the quality of the game certainly suffered.

“It wasn’t the best,” said Lambert. “Any balls that were hitting the ground were just skidding off out of play, so I suppose it wasn’t a nice game for the fans to watch. But being away from home we’ve got to be happy taking a point.”

The Saints striker also had words of praise for the team’s defence, and particularly the centre half pairing of Maya Yoshida and Jose Fonte, for the way they marshalled Fulham’s forward line.

“I thought they did terrifically,” he said. “I think they’ve been doing terrific the last few weeks. I think the partnership between them is getting better and better and some of the tackles, the headers, that they put in were first class.

“I think we have been solid the last few weeks. Disappointed with the goal, but I think after that they didn’t create any chances, so I think we are defending well at the minute.

“We’ve got to keep that up and obviously carry on scoring goals.”