Jack Cork felt the 3-2 loss at Tottenham was tough on Saints after the hosts completed a remarkable turnaround at White Hart Lane.
Cork, who made an earlier-than-expected return from injury to play the full 90 minutes in north London, was frustrated to see Gylfi Sigurdsson’s last-minute strike put the visitors to the sword by Spurs for the second time this season.
“It’s quite hard to take,” Cork told Saints Player after the game. “We were 2-0 up and quite comfortable.
“We talked about a few things before the game, stuck to the plan and it worked well as we got a good 2-0 lead and then two mistakes got them right back in it, whilst the third goal was a little bit cruel right towards the end in the 90-something minute.
“All the lads are gutted about it as everyone wanted to win this one because we lost in the first game at home. Especially from being in such a good position, it’s always hard to take when they come back from being behind.”
Saints made the perfect start to the game by taking a 2-0 lead inside half an hour thanks to goals from Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana but, even though Spurs got one back before half-time, Cork thought the decisive moment in the contest was the equaliser for 2-2 within a minute of the restart.
He said: “For us to go 2-0 up away from home at a place like this, everyone knows what they’ve got to do – but it’s difficult when the other team comes out at half-time and they get a goal so quickly.
“We said at half-time that we need to be right on it because they’re going to come out at us. You can say it, but sometimes you’re not ready for it – and they scored straightaway which made the second half difficult for us, with that goal early on making the difference.
“We felt comfortable, and when we talked about things and this game especially, we knew what we wanted to do by getting in behind the centre halves and playing in the channels a bit.
“We looked at some clips before so it did work, but unfortunately they (Spurs) came out in the second half and pressed a bit higher and made us sit a little bit deeper which made it harder to play those balls.
“We didn’t have so much time to think about the ball, so fair play to them they did come out and made it hard for us second half, but I think we deserved more than getting beat 3-2.”
Despite the setback, Cork believes next week’s game against Newcastle provides the team with the perfect opportunity to bounce back with a high league position still up for grabs.
“We’ve got Newcastle next week so if we beat them then everything is back to how it was so that’s a massive game for us,” he said.
“People look at us in the table and say we haven’t got much to play for, but we can now try and get above Newcastle, and then look at the teams above them. We’ve got Manchester United in the last game of the season, so until then we have plenty to play for.”