Two English strikers find the back of the net as another, Michael Owen, bids farewell to football with a late cameo for the Potters, who finish the season a place above the SaintsFormer Saint Peter Crouch’s goal was not enough to end Stoke City’s season on a high as Rickie Lambert cancelled out his effort to give Southampton a well-deserved point in a 1-1 draw.
Crouch headed Tony Pulis’ Stoke ahead in the 47th minute following good wing-play by Geoff Cameron only for Lambert to level after sloppy defending ten-minutes later, while Michael Owen made his last professional appearance, from the substitutes bench.
Southampton top scorer 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 scoring ten-minutes later, following a misplaced pass by Peter Crouch. The forward ‘s effort edged agonisingly wide of the post however, from 25-yards.
As the game was played out in midfield, 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, to 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 counter-attack, 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 City 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 a wide-right position that Crouch, who 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 inform 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 point above Southampton as they sit 13th and 14th in the final table.