Nigel Adkins refused to blame Guly Do Prado for fluffing an easy effort that would almost certainly have given Saints a shock win at Stoke.
But the boss admitted the Brazilian’s glaring miss might have been the turning point.
Guly, making his first league start since mid October, missed the target from 12 yards out with an empty net gaping when another goal would have put Saints 4-1 up and surely out of sight at the Britannia Stadium.
However, just a minute later Stoke had made it 3-2 and, despite being reduced to ten men, managed to bag a point from a game it appeared they would lose.
Adkins said: “Guly Do Prado, although we talk about the opportunity to put us four up, he’s had an excellent game for us on the left hand side.
“He put in a great cross for the first goal.”
Adkins added: “We’ve gone through and that (Guly’s miss) could have put us four up.
“As it is, a couple of ricochets in the area have given Stoke a lifeline to go 3-2.
“And at the end of the day you’ve got to give the player that scored the equalising goal credit because it’s a wonder goal.
“It’s a long ball forward, he lands on the second ball and lashes in an unstoppable shot.”