Southampton were held to a 1-1 draw by high flying Championship side Ipswich Town in a competitive third round encounter at St Mary’s.
Both goals in the game arrived in the first half, with the visitors taking a 19th minute lead when Darren Ambrose headed home a cross from Tyrone Mings.
Saints hit back through Morgan Schneiderlin’s close range finish for 1-1 on 33 minutes and from then on, the hosts looked likely to make their home advantage count as they threw everything at their opponents, but without success.
The defensive solidity from the visitors in the second half ensured that Mick McCarthy’s men will join Saints in the hat for the fourth round draw before a replay between these two teams which will be played on Wednesday 14th January, kick-off 7.45pm at Portman Road.
Ronald Koeman brought Shane Long and Morgan Schneiderlin back into the starting eleven for the tie, with the latter returning from a one match suspension to make his 250th appearance for Southampton.
There was no playing return at St Mary’s for Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, but the Polish stopper was named in the travelling party’s 18 man squad which also featured another ex-Saint in David McGoldrick up front.
The hosts got the tie under way attacking the Northam Stand which was housing the 5000 strong away support on an overcast afternoon at St Mary’s.
Against the backdrop of a good cup tie atmosphere from the sell-out crowd there was a competitive opening to the match, with the visitors from the Championship wasting no time in taking the game to Saints.
Town midfielder Kevin Bru shot wide with eight minutes on the watch before Saints registered their first shot just wide of the target when Victor Wanyama drilled a strike just to the left of the post guarded by Ipswich goalkeeper Dean Gerken.
Ipswich came back and tested Fraser Forster through Stephen Hunt’s low shot before the Blues took a 19th minute lead.
The goal came via a cross on the left from former Saints Academy man Tyrone Mings who found the head of Darren Ambrose for an effort which looped into top right corner.
That strike shook Saints back into life with Bertrand and Tadić linking up well on the left before finding Pellè, whose back-heel went across the face of the goal and wide.
Tadić then split the Town defence to find the run of Steven Davis, whose shot was saved by the outstretched boot of Gerken, while Pellè’s follow up was also blocked
Just before the half hour, James Ward-Prowse saw a free-kick pushed away at the right post by Gerken after Smith had handled the ball outside of the area.
But Saints would find their equaliser on 33 when Morgan Schneiderlin pounced on indecisiveness at the back with a looped header from Pellè’s assist from close range for 1-1.
The visitors had the best of the half thereafter with McGoldrick who trying an ambitious chip that went over the bar, before midfielder Luke Hyam smashed a shot wide of the left post, with the teams inseparable at the break.
Saints upped the tempo after the interval as they aimed to profit from their pace on the flanks with Shane Long and Ryan Bertrand in particular, making efforts to get forward.
In the 51st minute, Long got the better of Mings to cross for Pellè who was thwarted by Smith before Bertrand drove into the area from the right side where he was denied a shooting opportunity by Daryl Murphy, who put the ball behind for a corner.
Pellè warmed Gerken’s hands with a low strike on the hour with both teams making their first changes in the game soon after as Stewart for Ipswich and Isgrove for Saints entered the action.
The dogged defending from the visitors kept Saints at bay, with Long continually frustrated in his attempts to get into the Ipswich area, the best of which was halted by Christophe Berra just outside the box on the right side.
Isgrove required several minutes of treatment after a clash with Luke Chambers, a duel which resumed when a bandaged up Isgrove attacked the left flank with renewed vigour as the game entered its closing stages.
Ipswich threw another forward on in Conor Sammon prior to four minutes of additional time for stoppages, where Isgrove went closest to threatening the visitors’ goal after a mazy run into the area, only to skew a shot wide.
The draw means there will be a replay to decide who advances into the fourth round which will be played in ten days’ time.
Southampton team: Fraser Forster, James Ward-Prowse, Jose Fonte (c), Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Dušan Tadić (Lloyd Isgrove 66), Shane Long, Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Toby Alderweireld, Harrison Reed, Jason McCarthy, Matt Targett, Ryan Seager
Booked: Schneiderlin (30)
Goal: Schneiderlin (33)
Ipswich Town team: Dean Gerken, Luke Chambers (c), Tommy Smith, Christophe Berra, Tyrone Mings, Stephen Hunt (Cameron Stewart 63), Kevin Bru (Conor Sammon 87), Luke Hyam, Darren Ambrose (Cole Skuse 70), David McGoldrick, Daryl Murphy
Unused substitutes: Bartosz Bialkowski, Jonathan Parr, Balint Bajner, Matthew Clarke
Booked: Berra (32), Mings (53)
Goal: Ambrose (19)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 31,201 (including 5,536 away)