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West Bromwich Albion 1 Saints 1
SAINTS may go into the final day of the season with their fate not entirely in their own hands, but at least they do have renewed optimism.
The hard work in their survival battle is still to come, but at least against West Brom they proved they have the heart and the stomach for a fight.
For all the huffing and puffing of an entire season, it will come down to a final day decider against Sheffield United.
You feel there are still twists and turns to come on what will be a tense day at St Mary's, not least with what happens in the games involving Saints' relegation rivals.
But in grabbing a point at West Brom last night, they have given themselves a bit more of a chance.
It has brought other teams back into the equation and also thrown up the possibility that maybe a draw will be enough against the Blades.
However, Saints have to go for the win. They need the three points, otherwise it's a case of hoping eicester lose at Stoke.
That might happen but, in this season of weekly upsets, you wouldn't want your fate to rest on it.
And, anyway, if you end up playing for a draw, you often end up losing - and Saints cannot afford to lose. If they do, and United do have a play-off spot to play for, then they will be relegated.
But at least Nigel Pearson has something to point to in the shape of this performance to give his team some added hope and belief.
It will need to be a different performance against United but the commitment and battling qualities will have to be the same.
Though it sounds a little odd, going to West Brom and battling out a point is in many ways an easier equation than beating United at home.
West Brom might be the best team in the division but the pressure was all on them - Saints were expected to lose and anything they got would be a bonus.
Yes, they did very well and you can't take anything away from them, but it's going to be a different story at St Mary's.
The pressure will be all on Saints, much like it was against Burnley, only intensified. They need to show that they can handle that pressure and win, and it's that kind of pressure they have struggled with so often this season.
They will also have to make some of the running, whereas against West Brom it was often about stopping the Baggies playing.
Saints were pretty successful in that respect and were well worth their point.
In the first half, they limited West Brom to just one shot on target, the only one of the first 45, and that was a fairly weak effort that was comfortable for Richard Wright.
Chris Perry made two brilliant last ditch interventions to stop better openings being created, but Saints on the whole looked fairly comfortable.
You sensed West Brom had a gear or two still to find and they stepped it up a notch after the break.
They really flew at Saints but you just felt the longer the visitors kept them out the greater the chance they would start playing for a point, which would be enough to all but assure the Baggies promotion.
Wright had to save low at the near post from Ishmael Miller six minutes after the restart while Kevin Phillips shot wide three minutes later.
As West Brom pushed on again, Miller saw a shot deflected wide off Perry before Phillips again missed an opening, heading over at the far post.
The Baggies saw another chance come and go on 75 minutes, this time Phillips seeing his close range header brilliantly saved by Wright charging out of his goal.
Incredibly, it was Saints who made the breakthrough on 77 minutes.
Just a few minutes after coming on as a sub, Jermaine Wright's ball between centre-half and full-back was taken on by Adam Lallana.
He looked to have limited options but opted to shoot from a tight angle and smashed a shot across Dean Kiely and in off the far post.
Saints had the lead and a real chance for a sensational win.
The feeling that it might just be their night was enhanced when first Neil Clement headed a corner from six yards into the ground and over the bar and then Luke Moore missed a similar opening.
But it was a fleeting reprieve as West Brom snatched an equaliser with six minutes remaining.
Saints couldn't quite clear a cross from the right that went just behind everybody, Chris Brunt picked it up in the area and drove it low at goal. Wright was unsighted and the firmly struck shot went through his legs.