Fulham's descent into relegation trouble goes on. After looking capable of qualifying for Europe two months ago, Martin Jol's team are just six points clear of the bottom three and playing with a level of carelessness that suggests their fortunes are not going to improve in the new year. They were booed off following Rickie Lambert's deserved late equaliser and that could well become a common sound in these parts until May.

It is now just one win in 11 games for Fulham and while this result, combined with Wigan's defeat at Everton, means the Londoners are a point further away from the relegation zone, they have dropped one place to 14th and are undeniably in a rut. Having been thumped 4-0 by Liverpool last Saturday, this was meant to be the start of the turnaround, when Fulham showed their supporters what they are really made of. Instead they failed to beat a side that, before Wednesday, had lost six of their seven away league games this season.

What will be particular frustrating for Jol is that Fulham had started brightly, winning possession keenly and using it crisply and with purpose. Southampton were being overwhelmed in the opening stages and it came as no shock when the hosts took the lead after eight minutes through Dimitar Berbatov's close-range strike after Kelvin Davis had made a poor attempt of dealing with Sascha Riether's cross. In celebration, Berbatov revealed a T-shirt bearing the message: 'Keep calm and pass me the ball'.

It was an instruction that the Bulgarian's team-mates became increasingly incapable of adhering to and one his manager, having seen the striker booked for taking his shirt off, did not welcome.

"That was stupid," said Jol. "He [Berbatov] probably thought he would not get booked because he never gets booked, but I will have a word with him because it's not the brightest thing to go and do.

"He wanted to make a statement and in fairness that is something he is always telling the young players in training: to play with confidence and to play football. That is something we did not do today; we didn't link up in midfield and in the end it was old-fashioned long-ball play, which is not what we wanted."

Fulham's failure to win was not all down to their failings. Southampton deserve credit, too, for how they weathered the storm and eventually began to exert control over their opponents, with the midfield due of Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork distributing possession intelligently. In Jason Puncheon, who played both on the right and left flank here, they had a constant and willing outlet.

As the hosts' passing became erratic and their energy levels dipped, the visitors grew in confidence and Puncheon hit an instinctive drive from the edge of the area that fizzed just wide of the far post.

The pressure continued and as nervousness began to spread through the home fans, those packed into the away end became more fervent in their support. They were rewarded five minutes from time when the referee, Phil Dowd, deemed Chris Baird had handled Gastón Ramírez's corner while under pressure from Lambert. Southampton's top scorer drove in the resulting penalty for his seventh goal of the season.

Fulham did have chances to win the game late on, most notably through Brede Hangeland's header in stoppage time, but there was to be no salvation.

"The players showed good resolve and to leave a game away from home with something is important," said Nigel Adkins, the Southampton manager.

He felt Berbatov could well have received a second yellow card for a lunge on Puncheon soon after his goal but was satisfied with the key decision that did go his team's way. "We should have had six penalties this season and haven't had one, so it was about time."

Southampton remain 17th but are rightly looking up. Fulham, in contrast, have that sinking feeling.