Mark Hughes says Saints cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after throwing away a two goal lead to collapse to defeat against Chelsea.

It looked as thought Saints would ease their relegation worries when they went 2-0 up against a lacklustre Chelsea at St Mary’s with half an hour to play.

However, a disastrous eight minute spell saw the Blues net three times to leave Saints still mired in the bottom three with just five games remaining to try and save their top flight status.

Hughes said: “They've taken blows all year.

“They can't start feeling sorry for themselves now, it's gone beyond that.

“We've got to stick our chests out, get on with it, start being men and take responsibility.

“I thought they did that today, and against Arsenal.

“I think we've still got enough.”

He added: “Clearly we played really well today I thought. A great performance.

“Unfortunately, a period eight to 10 minutes where we've just gone under. We haven't been able to clear our heads after the first goal.

“They never really looked like they felt themselves they were going to come back into the game.

“But more often than not top teams have a reaction, and that's what Antonio has got from his players.

“In those moments you've got to recognise when that momentum is going against you and you’ve just got to weather the storm. At the moment we find it difficult.

“In my view it's a confidence issue.

“You start doing things that aren't as positive, in a game that was very much there for ourselves.

“I think we deserved something out of both games.

“It is what it is. We've got to be better in the key moments in games.

“It's a real shame, because it's a huge effort today.

“In the end they were clapped off. I don't think that's happened too often in recent weeks.”

Hughes and Saints had a right to feel aggrieved as Mike Dean failed to spot a nasty looking Marcos Alonso challenge on Shane Long that could have been a red card just before half time.

“Poor challenge, should have been a red card in my view,” reckoned Hughes.

“The disappointment was the officials didn't see it, they were all within a 10 to 15 metre radius. One of them should have seen it.

“It was a poor tackle, and one that could have been more severe for Shane.

“Thankfully he's just okay, but he's been raked down the calf.

“Chelsea down to 10 men, it could have put a different complexion on things.

“Referees have got to get them right: maybe that's why they're not in the World Cup this year.

“You've seen Shane for years and years, he's an honest player, he doesn't go down unless he's injured.

“He was really angry after the game because it was a poor challenge.”