Albion had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Southampton tonight after leading twice in a Withdean thriller.

Elliott Bennett and supersub Ashley Barnes had them dreaming of a fourth home win in five.

But ex-Seagulls skipper Dean Hammmond and sub Lee Barnard replied late in each half to give Southampton a point.

Bennett whipped home a fabulous first-time right-foot shot in only the 12th minute from around the edge of the box after good battling by Andrew Crofts.

The Seagulls played some super stuff in the first half and Glenn Murray twice blasted great chances too high.

But Southampton had plenty of possession and levelled in the 40th minute as Hammond seemed to get the slightest of touches to a free-kick whipped in from the right by Jason Puncheon.

Albion were back ahead on 66 minutes and it was a classic strike made and converted by two recently-introduced substitutes.

Kazenga LuaLua, back from injury well ahead of schedule, delivered a perfect cross from the left and Barnes did the rest with a textbook header into the bottom corner.

It looked like Albion, roared on by most of a crowd of 7,784, would hold on.

Then Saints' subs saved their side in the 89th minute as Barnard tucked home a low Ndiaye Papa Waigo cross.

The evening was not without setbacks.

Marcos Painter was stretchered off in the closing seconds with what looked a nasty knee injury and Murray picked up a tenth booking of the season, so will now serve a two-game ban.