Two English strikers found the back of the net as another, Michael Owen, bid farewell to football with a late cameo for the Potters, who finish the season a place above the SaintsSouthampton striker Peter Crouch’s goal was not enough to end Stoke’s season on a high as Rickie Lambert cancelled out his effort to give the Saints a well-deserved point in a 1-1 draw at St Mary's.
Crouch headed Tony Pulis’ side ahead in the 47th minute following good wing-play by Geoff Cameron only for Lambert to level after sloppy defending 10 minutes later, while Michael Owen made his last professional appearance, from the substitutes bench.
Southampton topscorer Lambert appeared to have given his side the lead with less than two minutes on the clock when Adam Lallana saw his effort rebound off the post and the 31-year-old smashed home the rebound. The home crowd’s celebrations were cut short, however, as the effort was ruled out for offside.
Lambert again came close to opening the scoring 10 minutes later, following a misplaced pass by Peter Crouch, but the forward ‘s long-range effort edged agonisingly wide of the post.
The game was largely contested in midfield, and there was not another scare for the visitors until the 38th minute when Lallana dispossessed Robert Huth just outside his own penalty area. The lofty German reacted well though to make a last ditch challenge and spare his blushes.
As the hosts controlled possession Nathaniel Clyne and Lallana continued to threaten but could not work any clear-cut chances as Stoke looked to strike on the break.
It was on the counterattack, in first-half injury-time, that the Potters grabbed the last chance of the half as Matthew Etherington picked up the ball on the halfway line before powering towards goal. The winger couldn't get past Clyne though, who managed to put the ball behind for a corner, which was dealt with easily by the home defence.
After being second best for the majority of the first-half Stoke exploded out of the blocks at the start of the second period and took the lead two minutes later.
USA international Cameron delivered a delightful ball from the right flank that Crouch, who had previously made 33 appearances for Southampton, nodded past Kelvin Davis with a deft finish.
The goal acted as a wake-up call for Maurico Pochettino’s men and they came close to an immediate reply when Clyne escaped Ryan Shawcross down the right wing and found Steven Davis unmarked, who turned the ball goalwards first time, and forced Asmir Begovic to save low to his right.
Five minutes later Begovic again kept his side in front, this time turning away Lambert’s effort with his legs following a great interchange with Jay Rodriguez.
Despite the in-form keeper’s best efforts the hosts were level four minutes later when Lallana’s cross was not dealt with by the Potters backline. The ball bounced around the area before Davis’ shot fell to Lambert, who rolled the ball home with ease.
The introduction of Michael Owen, for his final appearance before retirement, in the 74th minute was met with cheers from all around the ground but that was to be the only other talking point in what was a dull second half, as both sides seemed content with the draw.
The result sees Stoke finish the season one place and one point above Southampton as they sit 13th and 14th in the final table respectively.