Saints are starting to take a drink in last chance saloon.

Yet another draw, this time 0-0 at home to Stoke, has left them feeling deeper in the mire than ever, and they really need to start climbing their way out at Newcastle.

It seems strange to say that Saints feel in bigger trouble now than they have all season, given they have sat in the bottom three and currently they are not.

But a quick glance at the fixture list and the fact that things are slowly but surely going to get much harder proves that now has to be the time for Saints to rally if they are to survive.

The positive thing is that there are so many sides in it.

Whilst a few have picked up some form and started to extricate themselves away from the bottom three, there are still a healthy sized bunch there fighting to avoid the remaining two positions above West Brom.

Also, such is the division this season, it is likely to take a lower number of points than you would normally expect to survive.

But having passed up two good chances to win in the last two games, Saints now feel like they need three points at Newcastle.

Again, positivity is likely to be the key.

Having bemoaned a lack of it until falling behind at Burnley, Saints once more started slowly against Stoke. They picked up and had all of the second half, but just couldn’t get a goal.

The tale of caution is told in the table. Saints have fewer wins than any side other than rock bottom West Brom. But you also have to zoom up to the top eight to find teams have lost fewer games than they have.

It’s been the 13 draws that have either sustained their survival bid, or hampered it, depending on how you view things.

Saints are not at home for more than a month now, with four consecutive away trips in league and cup. That might just be a good thing for them.

They have struggled so badly to perform at St Mary’s - a real pity for those who have forked out good money on season tickets – but their extra caution and counter attacking style feels better suited on the road.

Mauricio Pellegrino is surely going to stick to his guns now, and maintain style and shape given all these away trips, and will resist the pressure to change it. Having refused to budge so far it would seem strange to switch now.

But he will be all too aware Saints have just got to win now. If not then things look bleak.

You could almost smell the tension in the air right from the kick off at a snow cleared St Mary’s when a heavy Stoke touch nearly let Saints in before an overhit Potters pass sailed straight out of play.

The first half was a bit like that.

In a game that neither team felt they could afford to lose there were errors in possession and a distinct lack of chances taken to really push forward.

Saints had drafted in Josh Sims but looked uncertain as to how to utilise him for the most part.

A series of terrible corners – indeed there were 15 for Saints during the game, many of which were frustratingly awful - and a lack of ability to be incisive and get in behind or round the outside of Stoke hampered Saints.

The one time they did manage it, when Sims made a break, he was blocked out at the last.

It summed up Saints’ attacking half that there were ironic cheers when Sims hooked a ball back in on stoppage time that might have just about counted as an only shot on target.

Stoke had marginally the better of whatever opportunities there were.

Badou Ndiaye hit one shot straight at Alex McCarthy and another wide while Konstantinos Stafylidis slashed over the bar.

It was Ndiaye who had the best opening of the first period three minutes before half time as he drifted in unmarked to reach Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross but his downward header was brilliantly stopped by McCarthy diving to his left.

Saints showed far more intensity in the second period, especially once Pellegrino went positive and threw on Manolo Gabbiadini.

They managed to exert wave after wave of pressure on Stoke, but they couldn’t take a chance when it mattered so much.

Sims was a livewire, twice forcing Jack Butland into good saves, Mario Lemina fired off target from a presentable position, Cedric Soares hit a shot from distance that was stopped while Nathan Redmond also found the Stoke keeper too hard to beat, including from one excellent curling shot.

The big chance of the game fell to Saints and Sofiane Boufal, whose first touch after coming off the bench was to put a free header from six yards wide of the post after Redmond had stood up a perfect cross to find him.

Gabbiadini also produced an air shot as Saints camped in the Stoke half but couldn’t find the net.

Stoke struggled to do much more than just hang on, but they did have one opportunity when Peter Crouch’s flick-on played in Maxim Choupo-Moting but he lifted the ball over McCarthy and also the bar.

Saints need to taste that winning feeling.