SAINTS conceded a last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Middlesbrough as their Championship promotion hopes suffered a blow at St Mary’s.

The hosts took the lead in the first half through Adam Armstrong’s crisp finish and it looked like they had done enough to earn all three points.

Michael Carrick’s side had other ideas though and Emmanuel Latte Lath’s late header earned a point for the visitors.

The result leaves Saints in fourth place and they visit promotion-rivals Ipswich Town on Easter Monday for another crucial fixture.

Russell Martin made three changes from the side beat Sunderland 4-2 before the international break - Kamaldeen Sulemana, James Bree, and Kyle Walker-Peters the players to come in.

Kamaldeen made a lively start and his persistence helped create the opening goal for Saints after only 12 minutes.

His cross from the left was not cleared by a Middlesbrough defender and Armstrong punished the mistake by firing into the bottom left corner for his 19th Championship goal of the season.

The Geordie forward went close to adding a second within minutes of the goal but his effort from the edge of the box flew over.

Middlesbrough nearly equalised when Che Adams lost possession in his own half, Finn Azaz strode forward and his effort came back off the post.

It was a warning sign for Southampton who had dominated the majority of the opening possession - but the visitors still remained a threat.

On the brink of halftime, Kamaldeen was found by Stuart Armstrong in a dangerous position but his attempt was wayward.

It was the visitors who had the first chance after the break when Latte Lath was put through on goal but Gavin Bazunu was equal to his shot.

Adams went close to adding a Saints second on three separate occasions with the assistant referee's flag denying him a goal for offside, before he then missed two big chances.

The first of those chances was a one-on-one where he was prevented from scoring by Seny Dieng and the second opportunity he somehow fired wide from six yards out.

Martin's side were looking like they could score at any time and only some last-ditch Middlesbrough defending stopped A Armstrong from turning in S Armstrong's cross.

Captain Jack Stephens was also called upon for some last ditch defending, sliding in to prevent Latte Lath from close range.

The 77th minute saw a minute's applause from all four sides of St Mary's for former Saints player and manager Chris Nicholl, who passed away in February.

Will Smallbone teed up substitute Ryan Fraser late-on but his effort from the edge of the area was kept out by Dieng.

Saints' failure to score a second goal came back to haunt them in the 90th minute when a cross from the right was headed in by Latte Lath.

Saints: Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Stephens, Bree; Downes, Smallbone (Edozie, 91), S Armstrong (Aribo, 91); A Armstrong (Mara, 85), Kamaldeen (Fraser, 63), Adams (Brooks, 63)

Unused Subs: Lumley, Bednarek, Manning, Rothwell

Booked: Downes, S Armstrong

Middlesbrough: Dieng; Ayling, Howson, Clarke; Jones (Gilbert, 81), Barlaser, O'Brien, Engel; Azaz (Thomas, 92), Greenwood (Silvera, 75), Latte Lath

Unused Subs: Jones, Dijksteel, Willis, Lennon, McCabe, Woolston

Booked: Latte Lath, Jones, Azaz, O'Brien

Referee: Matt Donohue

Attendance: 30,470

Goals: Armstrong 12', Latte Lath 90'