All four Premier League meetings between these two teams have ended up as draws, so there was something inevitable about this result, even if the way it was achieved would have been less easy to predict.
Stoke City arrived at St Mary’s with the worst away record in the division, so when Rickie Lambert gave Southampton an early lead, nobody would have bet much on the visitors’ prospects of a positive result, still less on their chances of replying with a goal of the highest quality. But they confounded both sets of expectations, although that was as good as it got, with two farcical goalkeeping errors completing the scoring before the interval of a game played in a gale.
Nevertheless, Mark Hughes, the Stoke manager and a former Southampton player, was pleased with a first away point since a 0-0 draw at Hull in December. “We had a good win against Manchester United last week so it was important that we got something out of this game to keep the run going,” he said. “We showed character and no little skill.”
Much of that skill came from Charlie Adam, who handled to concede the free-kick that Lambert curled beyond Stoke’s goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to give Saints the lead after six minutes, but made up for it with the pass of the match after 38 minutes, sliding the ball between Maya Yoshida and Luke Shaw from inside his own half to allow Peter Odemwingie to run on and score his first goal since joining Stoke from Cardiff City last month.
The lead lasted a few minutes, though. Begovic had scored a wind-assisted goal in the first meeting of these teams at the Britannia Stadium, and the elements seemed to be a factor again as Steven Davis floated a cross in from the right that eluded forwards, defenders and Begovic alike as it travelled unimpeded into the net.
But Stoke levelled again a minute before the interval when Peter Crouch – a former Saint but less fondly remembered in these parts as a one-time Portsmouth player – got in ahead of Artur Boruc’s attempted punch to force the ball over the line. And for once Southampton’s captain Adam Lallana could not inspire another win.
Southampton are now unbeaten in seven games in the League and the FA Cup, but Mauricio Pochettino, their manager, lamented the loss of two points. “The weather conditions didn’t help the way we play, and after the first goal we weren’t aggressive enough to get the second,” he said.
Southampton (4-3-3): Boruc; Clyne (Chambers, 80), Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin, S Davis; Lallana, Lambert, Rodriguez.
Stoke City (4-4-1-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Muniesa, Pieters; Odemwingie, Whelan, Adam (Nzonzi 78), Assaidi (Guidetti 84); Walters; Crouch.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Man of the match: Adam (Stoke)
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content