/ Soccer

Southampton 2-2 Stoke

Updated: Saturday, 08 Feb 2014 22:46 | Comments

Rickie Lambert's free-kick sails past Stoke 'keeper Asmir Begovic to give Saints the lead
Rickie Lambert's free-kick sails past Stoke 'keeper Asmir Begovic to give Saints the lead

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Southampton extended their unbeaten run to a fifth league match but were unable to eke out a deserved Barclays Premier League victory after their 2-2 draw with Stoke.

Blustery conditions made the St Mary's encounter a battle of wills, with the odd sudden downpour making life even tougher for both sides.

Southampton edged the grizzly encounter but Stoke's resilience and impressive second-half defending saw the match finish 2-2.

All four Premier League encounters between these sides have now ended level, although Saints looked good for three points when Rickie Lambert curled home an impressive early free-kick.

The set-piece was awarded after Charlie Adam handled, although he made amends with an exquisite through-ball for Peter Odemwingie to score Stoke's first away goal of 2014.

It began a spell of three goals in six minutes, with Steven Davis fortuitously putting Saints back ahead as his cross evaded Asmir Begovic, only for City to again level through former Southampton frontman Peter Crouch.

Mauricio Pochettino's side dominated the second half but were unable to find a way past Stoke, who held on to end a four-game losing streak away from the Britannia Stadium.

Both sides made two alterations for the clash in similarly blustery conditions to the reverse encounter in November.

Artur Boruc remembers the 1-1 draw all too well, having been caught out after 13 seconds by Stoke counterpart Begovic's long kick up the field.

There was another early goal this time, although here it was Begovic picking the ball out of his net after Saints were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box after an Adam handball.

The position looked ideal for a cross but Lambert had other ideas, sending the ball curling into the top right-hand corner.

It was quite the start from Saints but not one that put the visitors off, with Odemwingie testing Boruc with a low strike soon after.

Saints were having to defend diligently to keep Stoke at bay and were creating little at the other end until an impressive Davis-led getaway in the 28th minute.

Winning the ball deep in his own half, the Northern Ireland captain ran the length of the field before playing through the overlapping Nathaniel Clyne, whose strike across goal was parried by Begovic.

After a sudden downpour cleared, Saints returned to the attack and Clyne saw a shot blocked before a close-range Lambert attempt was somehow turned away.

It was a missed chance the hosts were made to rue in the 38th minute.

Atoning for the handball that gifted Saints the opener, Adam, making his 50th league appearance for Stoke, played an exquisite through-ball for Odemwingie to direct home past Boruc.

The goal was Stoke's first away from home in 369 minutes but they were back behind just three minutes later as Davis' cross evaded everyone in the box and rippled the back of the net.

Begovic should have done better with the goal, which could also be said for counterpart Boruc three minutes later.

Adam was again the provider, with his corner from the right met at the near post by Crouch before Boruc could punch the ball away.

The second half begun in the same end-to-end fashion, but without goals punctuating the play every couple of minutes.

Jay Rodriguez, left unmarked from a corner, sent a header wide and Davis glanced a cross straight into Begovic's grasp, before Maya Yoshida recovered from an ill-timed slip to head away from danger as Crouch loitered.

Referee Craig Pawson waved away a penalty appeal from the hosts after Adam Lallana's cross struck Glenn Whelan's hand as Pochettino's side upped the ante, with Lambert seeing a 20-yard strike deflected behind.

Jack Cork struck wide after Jose Fonte and Crouch had a tiff at the other end, with the giant striker booked soon after as the home fans reminded him of his Portsmouth links.

Saints were dominating the play but were being frustrated time and time again by Stoke's miserly defence.

Ryan Shawcross was leading the back line with aplomb, with only one clear-cut chance for the hosts in the dying stages.

Substitute Calum Chambers' fine ball to the far post was met by Morgan Schneiderlin, but the midfielder's close-range strike flew into the side-netting - much to the delight of the 1,041 visiting fans.

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