SOUTHAMPTON'S under-fire manager Nigel Adkins was denied a much-need victory by Swansea today as another former academy graduate returned to haunt their former club.
Two weeks ago Gareth Bale helped Tottenham to a 2-1 victory at St Mary's, and this afternoon Nathan Dyer came off the bench to deny the south coast club all three points.
Saints came into the game under no illusions of how important it was to pick up a victory, as speculation mounted over the future of manager Adkins.
The hosts responded in the ideal manner and, having dominated the first half, continued well after the break and took a deserved lead through Morgan Schneiderlin.
But, like so many times before this season, Saints' defence proved their undoing as Maya Yoshida failed to control a pass from goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, with Dyer nipping in to collect the ball and fire home to secure a point for the Welsh side.
Adkins named 17-year-old Luke Shaw in his team for today's game, which saw the left-back become the youngest ever player to start a Premier League match for Saints.
His appearance came in a match of grave importance for the hosts, whose fans chanted 'one Nigel Adkins' from the outset in support of their manager.
The hosts started well and, soon after Ashley Williams cleared a threatening corner, Schneiderlin blazed over from the edge of the box.
Saints captain Adam Lallana forced Gerhard Tremmel into action with a quick turn and strike, before Gaston Ramirez curled a left-footed effort just wide of the German's right-hand post from 25 yards.
It was an opening brimming with confidence that belied Southampton's lowly position, although their defensive weaknesses were soon being exposed.
Only the fine reactions of goalkeeper Gazzaniga stopped Ki Sung-yeung breaking the deadlock 20 minutes in, but Garry Monk did well at the other end to stop Puncheon getting a shot away on the counter.
Saints were looking the better of the two sides and Ramirez did well to jink into space and fire just wide in the 26th minute.
Schneiderlin and Williams were booked as the match continued, with the latter penalised for clattering in-flight Ramirez.
The Uruguay international took the resulting free-kick, which caught the Swansea defence on the hop as he floated the ball wide to the unmarked Jose Fonte, whose cutback and shot were both blocked.
Lallana claimed a penalty against Angel Rangel and then scooped a curled right-foot effort as half-time approached.
The Swansea right-back saw a shot deflected behind off Yoshida when play resumed for the second half, before Shaw was caught out for the first time.
The teenager was impressing for Saints but Pablo Hernandez got behind him and cut back, only for Wayne Routledge to place over.
The latter was replaced by former Southampton winger Dyer moments later, before Ramirez twice had shots blocked.
The home side were dominating play but dawdling too often in possession in the final third.
Ramirez failed with an attempted scissor kick and then Lallana was booked for diving when he went down under pressure from Williams.
The home side's intense pressure soon told, though, as Lallana swung a ball in from the left and Rickie Lambert's cushion header was controlled by Schneiderlin.
The French midfielder took the ball on the run and continued to head past Tremmel to give Adkins' side a deserved 64th-minute lead.
Clyne saw a low cross cleared as Southampton pushed for a second, before defensive frailties again cost Adkins' side.
Gazzaniga played the ball out to Yoshida but the Japan international miscontrolled and Dyer latched on to the loose ball and fired home off the post.
The 73rd-minute leveller was met by a muted celebration by the substitute in respect to his former club, who returned the attack desperate for a winner.
Lambert nodded agonisingly wide shortly afterwards and Cork flashed a strike over, before Tremmel caught a tame header by the former.
Referee Andre Marriner waved away Lallana's strong penalty appeals in the 85th minute after going down under pressure from Monk, before Ki saw a shot blocked at the other end and Yoshida cleared a cross with a last-ditch challenge.