England struggled for rhythm at the Tose Proeski Arena, falling behind when Enis Bardhi converted the rebound after Jordan Pickford had saved his penalty.
But while a Jani Atanasov own goal gave England a second-half equaliser, they were unable to end 2023 with victory.
Upbeat about his side’s display despite the result, Southgate said: “I thought the performance was good. The mentality was excellent. We played well, and totally controlled the game.
“Difficult with the way they defended and the pitch — not easy to get the perfect final pass. I thought there were some excellent performances within the game."
On the nature of the pitch, he added: "[It was] very firm, but we’ve had worse. I thought the players dealt with it well, but there were always going to be moments where a pass was going to bobble up.”
North Macedonia’s penalty was awarded after the VAR harshly adjudged 18-year-old debutant Rico Lewis to have elbowed Bojan Miovski, even though replays showed it was a flailing hand rather than a his elbow which had struck the Macedonian striker.
Minutes earlier, Harry Maguire was not penalised for a lunge which was more deserving of a penalty than the incident Lewis was punished for.
“I didn’t think that was a penalty," Southgate said. “The one before might have been, so maybe that evened itself out. We had to commit more men into those attacking areas. We were in those areas, but at times not enough breaking into the box. We knew a goal would come, and we thought more would come.”
He added: “Today we wanted to look at a few different things as well, so we’ve managed to learn from the game as well as the result. I have to be pleased with the progress of the team.
“If you had said at the start of the campaign that we would be eight wins, two draws at the end of the year, it’s a pretty good record given the fixtures that we’ve had.”