Saints may well have left the Vitality Stadium wondering whether they had gained one point or dropped two against Bournemouth.

The battle for south coast supremacy is tighter this season than it has been for a long time, and with the two teams separated by just a couple of points in the table, chances were it was always going to be a keenly fought encounter.

Of course, any point away from home in the Premier League is a decent one.

But much like in the game at Brighton, Saints probably had that nagging feeling that they might have got a big away win to take back down the M27 with them.

There is a sense that Saints feel, from top to bottom, from board to fans, that they are the superior club.

It is understandable given history and tradition, the respective stadia, and even more recent league finishes too.

But football waits for nobody, and if Saints have been a little off pace over the course of the season so far, then that has closed the gap between them and Bournemouth, who are battling away as they have done since making it up to the top flight.

On the balance of this game, you still felt that Saints had the better players, the greater quality in the final third, but ultimately the result is king, and that was honours even.

Saints had waves of intensity, which resulted in waves of pressure on Bournemouth, and always looked as though they could go on to win the game. It was a positive performance.

In fairness to the Cherries, they did work Fraser Forster, and were as industrious as you have come to expect and with a little more could have taken the win themselves.

Despite Mauricio Pellegrino ringing the changes again, both in personnel and formation after the late heartbreak against Manchester City, it was a strong start from Saints.

Virgil van Dijk had the first chance on 12 minutes as he met an outswinging James Ward-Prowse corner just outside the six yard box but under pressure couldn’t guide a header on target, before Dusan Tadic’s effort from Jeremy Pied’s right wing cross produced the same outcome.

Fraser Forster had two big saves to make in as many minutes as Bournemouth got on top for the first time.

The first was a remarkable reaction stop, as the big keeper instinctively threw out his left hand and managed to swat over Jermaine Defoe’s shot that came via Adam Smith’s long range drive.

Moments later Lewis Cook provided a right wing cross that was met by a Nathan Ake header but Forster was able to push wide away to his right in slightly more routine fashion.

Both sides traded penalty shouts as Smith went down in the area after Sofiane Boufal had fully committed to a sliding challenge and failed to get particularly near to the ball.

Smith appeared to leave a foot behind to ensure he was tripped, but it was still a debatable yellow card for diving from referee Jon Moss when it did look a penalty.

After Asmir Begovic was forced into a first save of the game, pushing away Charlie Austin’s header, Saints appealed unsuccessfully to Moss for a penalty of their own as the follow-up from Tadic was blocked by the arm of Simon Francis but from point blank range.

Finally there was something to separate the teams three minutes before half time.

It was a horror moment for Wesley Hoedt, who was caught trying to turn back inside and relieved of the ball by Josh King.

He slid it square to Andrew Surman, whose first time pass outside found the overlap of Ryan Fraser and the Cherries midfielder swept home first time past Forster.

Boufal had chances either side of a half time break in which Nathan Redmond replaced Ward-Prowse, but skied a cut back and saw a low drive stopped by Begovic.

After some initial Cherries pressure as King fired wide and Junior Satnislas worked Forster, Saints really upped the intensity and turned the screw on Bournemouth, with Redmond out on the right providing fresh impetus.

It paid dividends on 61 minutes as Saints got an equaliser, Oriol Romeu winning the ball and feeding Redmond, whose pinpoint cutback found Austin having peeled off of Ake and gleefully finishing first time low past Begovic.

Saints enjoyed the greater dominance in the final stages, but both sides had chances to win it.

Forster did well to save from King but the rebound struck Callum Wilson and fortunately went wide before Ryan Bertrand whipped in a delicious left wing cross that gave Austin a close range header that he put off target.

The final kick of the game saw Ake head over from a corner eight yards out as both sides settled for a point.

It would be fair to say that there could have been more for Saints on another day. Bournemouth might argue the same.

But while four points from Everton at home, Manchester City away and Bournemouth away is a respectable haul, and there are welcome signs of progress, it is also short of fantastic.

It’s why Saints’ season has again teetered on the brink of lift off, but not quite made it into orbit, while it has also avoided a crash and burn scenario.

A draw ensures they remain in that realm for a little longer.