David McGoldrick`s last minute strike completed a sensational comeback for the Saints. McGoldrick`s fifth league goal of the season ended Southampton`s win drought of five games. The Saints had to overcome a 2-0 deficit after the half time break and a spirited second half performance from the young Saints side ensured they would leave the North West with all three points.
Jan Poortvliet had to make a tactical decision before the game had begun, with Jason Euell getting injured in the warm up. Lloyd James filled in at right back, pushing Jack Cork into a holding midfield role; with Surman supporting David McGoldrick.
It was the home side who made the brighter start in a sunlit, yet cold afternoon in Lancashire. Preston pressurised the Saints defence with a series of early corners; which were comfortably dealt with by the new partnership of Olly Lancashire and new signing Alex Pearce in the heart of defence.
After weathering the early storm, the away side started to string some crisp passes together, ending in some positive attacking play with Jack Cork reaching the by line only to cross into Andy Lonergan`s gloves.
McGoldrick was searching for his fifth league goal of the season when he created half a yard in the Preston penalty area, only to find his shot being blocked by on loan from Hull Wayne Brown making it a comfortable save for Lonergan on 18 minutes.
Four minutes later the home side felt they had a fair shout for a penalty; when Parkin went down after a challenge from Olly Lancashire. The referee turned down the appeal and waved play on. Preston persisted to pressurise with Parkin slotting home to what he thought was his first goal for Preston, yet the linesman`s flag had already been raised.
Preston did take the lead on the 35th minute when Billy Jones powered a shot through a congested box; the ball sailed past Kelvin Davis and against the run of the play the home side found themselves 1-0 up. Seven minutes later Preston were 2-0 up thanks to a typical poacher`s goal from Stephen Elliot.
The second half began with Poortvliet being forced to make changes if the South coast side were to get themselves back into the game. The Dutch boss brought on academy boy Oscar Goberns and Wright-Phillips for Ryan Smith and Lloyd James. This resulted in Jack Cork returning to right back and Surman playing alongside Schniederlin the centre.
Saints started the second half the better side with Wright-Phillips testing Lonergan with a strike which was comfortably scooped up by the goalkeeper. Preston nearly made it 3-0 with Parkin being in the thick of the action again, but he could only divert his shot wide; although the off side flag was already raised.
The away side continued to pin back Preston with shots from Surman and Cork. The tide turned when Saints won a corner in the 64th minute which was headed in by debut defender Alex Pearce who was unmarked at the near post.
Four minutes later the Saints were level thanks to excellent work from Oscar Gobern who chipped a cross to the back post where Surman dramatically powered home a diving header to square it, 2-2.
Saints nearly completed the turnaround in the 70th minute when Wright-Phillips` effort was parried to youngster Goberns, whose attempt was deflected behind for a corner.
With the young away side playing the better football, the wind was certainly in their sails. If anyone was going to win, it was the Saints.
The dramatic comeback was complete in the final minute of time when David McGoldrick finished off a tantalising individual run with a calm finish past the helpless Lonergan. This sparked an eruption, with travelling fans on the pitch and even Kelvin Davis running the length of the pitch to join in on the celebrations.
Mark Haywood brought the game to an end and this result very well could be the vital turning point the Saints need. Poortvliet`s boys have climbed a mountain today and this match could potentially be the backbone to a revival at the club. Saints escape the relegation zone and move up to 20th in the league.
Their next match is at home to Bristol City; you feel they need a result next week to start a consistent streak and their climb up the Championship table.
Lonergan, St. Ledger, Mawene, Wayne Brown, McEveley, Nicholson (Sedgwick 76), Jones, McKenna, Wallace, Parkin (Chris Brown 72), Elliott (Mellor 73).
Subs Not Used: Neal, Jarrett.
Davis, Cork, Lancashire, Pearce, Skacel, Thomson (Gillett 83), Schneiderlin, Surman, Smith (Gobern 46), James (Wright-Phillips 46), McGoldrick.
Subs Not Used: Bialkowski, Wotton.