19/05/2013: Saints 1-1 Stoke

Saints closed out the season with an unremarkable 1-1 draw with Stoke. It leaves Mauricio Pochettino's men in 14th position, in what will go down as a fairly successful campaign.

Saints made a bright start to the game, having a goal disallowed in the first minute. Rickie Lambert turned the ball in after Adam Lallana's initial effort came back off the post. Lambert was correctly judged to have been in an offside position. That was about as exciting as it got however. Both teams were fairly evenly matched in a game lacking in chances and quality. Saints dealt with Stoke's aerial threat fairly well, and created a few openings on the counter. Lallana nearly capitalised on Robert Huth's slip up on the edge of the area, but couldn't quite force his way through. A tame effort from Jonathan Walters was the best chance the visitors had in the first half.

The second half was a slightly livelier with Stoke taking the lead just two minutes in. Peter Crouch headed Geoff Cameron's cross into the corner of the net from close range. Saints nearly levelled immediately. Nathaniel Clyne cut the ball back for Steven Davis in the penalty area, with the Northern Irish midfielder firing straight at Asmir Begovic. Davis was also involved in the equaliser on 57 minutes. He had his low shot parried by Begovic, with Lambert tapping in on the rebound. Saints looked the more likely during the final half hour, although neither team really overextended themselves. Shaw and Rodriguez had chances. Michael Owen was brought on for Stoke, and received a warm welcome from both sets of fans in an emotional final game. Many thought Emmanuel Mayuka's 89th minute effort was in, when in fact the ball had crashed into the side netting. That was the last major action of a fairly quiet game.

Like many of Saints' recent games, that had a real end of season feel to it. Pochettino's side have taken their foot off the gas slightly during the last few weeks, with the season petering out. Still, most Saints fans would have taken 14th before the season started. It's been an interesting campaign, with plenty of highs and lows, but it will ultimately go down as a success. There are areas we need to improve, but there is also huge potential within the squad. Defensively we are almost unrecognisable from the start of the season, although another top quality addition at centre-half wouldn't go amiss. Up front we could do with a bit more creativity. The likes of Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez need to step it up next season. If we make the right moves in the transfer market then we could really be in for an exciting future.

Attendance: 31,539

Match Ratings:

Davis: 7. Made a few decent saves. Distribution better than it has been in previous appearances too

Clyne: 8. A typically brilliant display. Made a number of fine challenges, as well as some dangerous runs down the right flank

Fonte: 7. Beaten to the ball by Crouch for the goal, but otherwise pretty decent defensively and on the ball

Hooiveld: 7. Fairly comfortable afternoon

Shaw: 7. Decision making and anticipation very good. A brilliant first campaign for the 17 year old

Schneiderlin: 8. A great way to sign off for the man of the season. Was everywhere

Cork: 7. Another solid outing from Mr dependable

Davis: 6. Tidy display from the midfielder. Should have probably scored

Lallana: 7. Had a role in the goal and looked more threatening than he has done in recent weeks

Rodriguez: 6. Decision making not always perfect, but some brilliant bits of skill here and there

Lambert: 7. A much needed goal and a good all round display


Puncheon: 6. Linked up well with Clyne on the right

Ward-Prowse: 6. Kept things ticking along with some decent touches

Mayuka: Had one of the best second half chances