After a bright start, Demba Ba and Eden Hazard struck to leave Southampton in a difficult position at half time.
But Adkins’ men appeared revitalised after the break, with Rickie Lambert scoring within three minutes of coming on before Jason Puncheon’s stunner made it two-apiece – much to the manager’s satisfaction.
“We have come here with a game plan because Chelsea are a good side and if you give them space then they are going to hurt you,” Nigel told Saints Player
“The two goals that we conceded we could have cleared a little bit better in the penalty area, especially the one right before half time.
“That could have been a real sucker blow – as it was in the FA Cup when they scored against us right before half time – but the players showed great character to come out in the second half and stick to the game plan.
“We had great impact coming off the bench and to go and claw two goals back the players deserve real credit.
“At half time I told the players that we needed to stay in the game so I am really pleased that we stuck to the game plan and come away from this game with something.”
Top scorer Lambert was named among the substitutes for the trip to Stamford Bridge, prompting some raised eyebrows among travelling Saints fans.
However, Adkins said that the impact made by the frontman following his 55th-minute introduction justified the decision to start him on the bench.
“I have no regrets whatsoever,” said the gaffer when questioned over whether he wished he had used Lambert from the start.
“We came with a game plan and that was to utilise the pace of Jay Rodriguez on the counter-attack and look to the impact of Rickie coming off the bench.
“That is what impact is all about – we wanted him fresh for that final 35 or 40 minutes of the game, and he has come on and scored an excellent goal.”
The manager also reserved praise for the manner of Saints’ equaliser, which started with a lung-bursting push forward by Luke Shaw and was ended by a rocketed shot from Puncheon.
“Wow – what a finish,” Adkins said of the winger’s fifth goal of the season.
“What a fantastic run it was from Luke Shaw to drive on and get the ball in the box, and it was a fantastic finish from Jason Puncheon.”