Only a late miss by 17-year-old Irish debutant Michael Obafemi spared Pochettino a defeat at his old club, though Harry Kane could also have won it for the Londoners in injury-time.
Christian Eriksen was a surprise absentee from the Spurs squad as he and Hugo Lloris were both struck down by illness and unable to travel to England’s south coast.
Harry Kane cancelled out Davinson Sanchez’s own-goal but a below-par Tottenham were held and missed the chance to move into the Premier League’s top four. They will fall five points behind Liverpool if Jurgen Klopp’s men beat Swansea tonight.
Pochetttino, who took his team on a warm-weather training camp to Barcelona last week, would not name the players affected by illness as he said they had all recovered. “A few players were affected last week but it’s not an excuse,” Pochettino said.
“We are disappointed because our game wasn’t great, our performance wasn’t the best. The game was even and full credit to Southampton because they fight and play well.
“I think it is a fair result in the end, 1-1. There were massive chances we had in the last minute with Harry Kane but at the end if you analyse the game, it’s a fair result.”
Spurs now find themselves in danger of losing touch with the Champions League spots, ahead of three crunch league games against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Arsenal.
Pochettino refused to be drawn on more reports linking Kane with a move to Real Madrid and also played down the club’s chances of making new signings this month.
“Nothing to say but for us it is difficult and will be difficult for different reasons.”
For Southampton, who stay 18th, this was a point gained in their fight to avoid relegation, and in particular for under-fire manager Mauricio Pellegrino. Marco Silva’s availability after being sacked by Watford threatened to pile more pressure on Pellegrino but there was enough in this gutsy display to suggest a revival may still be within reach.
“They don’t fight just for me,” Pellegrino said. “They fight for themselves. They fight for the club.”
Pellegrino was also optimistic when asked about the prospect of Southampton adding new players before the end of the transfer window.
“Hopefully next week will be a good week for us.”
Exciting Irish prospect Obafemi (17) arrived as a sub in the 82nd minute and he had a chance to win the game but snatched at his shot from a Dusan Tadic cross.
“It’s a special feeling. I’ve dreamed of it since I was a kid,” Obafemi — born in Ireland to Nigerian parents, before moving to London — told the Saints website.
“I can’t stop here. This is just the beginning of what I hope is my career.” Of his missed chance, Obafemi added: “I should have used my left foot but I hope I’ll get another opportunity to prove I can make it at this level.”
McCarthy, Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand, Romeu, Lemina (Davis 80), Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg (Boufal 65), Tadic, Gabbiadini (Obafemi 82).
Vorm, Aurier (Trippier 72), Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele (Wanyama 85), Sissoko, Alli, Son (Lamela 70), Kane.