Shane Long felt that West Bromwich Albion’s leveller just before half time was the turning point of Southampton’s 2-1 defeat to the Baggies.
The Saints striker had put Claude Puel’s men in front with a near post header five minutes before half time, but the hosts were pegged back almost immediately by Matt Phillips’ strike.
Long’s strike – his first club goal of the season – was ultimately in vain, as his former club went on to secure all three points thanks to Hal Robson-Kanu’s early second half effort.
“Losing that goal just before half time kind of killed us a bit,” said Long. “If we’d have gone in 1-0 at half time then it would have forced them to come at us a little bit more and create space for us to catch them on the break, but they’re a hard team to break down so after it went 1-1 credit to them because they got a good second goal and held on to it.
“They (West Brom) get forward quickly and once they get it up there they pass it well and have some good players to take good runs and make it one v ones which caused us a few problems, but it’s disappointing.
“They’re a tough side to play against and obviously we’re disappointed because we need to win these games at home, and it would have been a big three points for us going into the New Year. It’s one day to recover and now off to Liverpool to play Everton and go to get the result up there.”
Long also refused to blame the number of changes to the team for the loss, and says they’re not far from clicking together.
“We’ve done it all season,” he said. “We’ve played in Europe and we’ve changed the team from Thursdays to Sundays so we’re used to it and we’ve got a good squad of players and anyone come into the team and slot in nicely, so that’s no excuse.
“We need to do better and it’s frustrating today but it’s a long way until the end of the season and a few things to build on today as well.”