Vurnon Anita has urged Newcastle not to allow the momentum to slip as they head into the festive programme with their sights set on the top six.
The Magpies travel to Crystal Palace next week having been denied a sixth Barclays Premier League victory in seven games by a spirited Southampton fightback which saw the visitors claim a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park on Saturday.
On the balance of play, a point apiece represented a fair distribution of the spoils, although Alan Pardew’s men were left kicking themselves after striker Loic Remy uncharacteristically passed up two glorious chances to score.
The contest became increasingly heated as time ran down with Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko accidentally leaving referee Mike Jones with a bloody nose and goalkeeping coaches Andy Woodman and Toni Jimenez being sent to the stands after a flare-up between the two benches, but Anita was able to take positives ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park.
The 24-year-old Dutchman said: “We have won a lot of matches and the spirit is very good. But we must keep it up, work hard and the next game, hopefully we win.
“I think it will be tougher than this game because they need the points and so do we, so it will be a hard game.”
Newcastle enjoyed the better of the first half despite being without suspended playmaker Yohan Cabaye, and took a deserved 28th-minute lead when Yoan Gouffran latched on to a Mike Williamson header and rounded goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga to score for the fourth successive home game.
But Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino made a significant change at the break when he brought on Adam Lallana, who had been left out of the starting line-up because of a niggling injury, and he belatedly sparked his side into life.
It was he who started the 65th-minute move from which Jay Rodriguez exchanged passes with Steven Davis before sliding the ball past keeper Tim Krul to level.
However, Remy, who had seen a first-half effort cleared off the line by full-back Calum Chambers, should really have restored the Magpies’ lead after being presented with the ball by Gazzaniga’s blunder, but he shot wastefully wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Asked if it was just not the usually free-scoring Frenchman’s day, Anita said: “Indeed, indeed, he was unlucky. But he is a good player, so he will get over it and in the next game, he will score.
“It’s two points dropped because we had a lot of chances, and a big one with Loic and he didn’t score. But we worked hard today and we got one point.
“In the Premier League, you never know. You must keep on fighting until the end, and we did.
“But they scored. We worked hard to score another goal, but unluckily, we didn’t.”
Things rather got out of hand deep into stoppage time with Pardew later describing the scenes on the sidelines as “panto season”, although he played down the incident.
The 52-year-old said: “It was because both teams were pushing for the win. That’s what you want, a bit of passion. I don’t think there was too much damage done there, really.”
Southampton left Tyneside with just a second point from their last five games, although that run has included trips to Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle and a home clash with Manchester City.
Midfielder Davis told the club’s official website: “We always knew it would be a difficult period and against the top sides, we were disappointed not to get any results for a couple of games, but the belief has always been there in the way we play.
“It’s always important to keep that momentum through good results, which we have now done back-to-back, and even though we would like to have won them, we are looking forward to the festive period now where the games come thick and fast.
“Maybe on the outside people are taking note a little bit more now, but we knew that the closeness and quality we have got in the squad.
“Obviously it’s difficult for the players who haven’t been playing, but the ones that have are picking up results, so you can’t really have any grievances as far as that goes.”
Written by George Coomber