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A stunning 90th-minute volley from Cameron Jerome secured a point for 10-man Stoke City in a highly-eventful 3-3 draw with Southampton at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke looked like they would pay for poor defending in the first half but fought back and substitute Jerome had the final say with a thumping volley from 30 yards.
Stoke had conceded only four goals at home in the Barclays Premier League all season and boasted the best defensive record in the division but shipped three in the first half. Captain Ryan Shawcross and full-back Geoff Cameron were serving one-match suspensions, with Matthew Upson and Ryan Shotton coming in, and the reshuffle seemed to unsettle the home side.
Poor defending allowed Rickie Lambert to open the scoring 10 minutes in and, although Kenwyne Jones soon equalised, Jay Rodriguez was presented with Saints’ second in the 24th minute. An Andy Wilkinson own goal in the 36th minute summed up a miserable half for the hosts but they responded in the second period and Upson pulled one back in the 67th minute. Steven Nzonzi was sent off soon after but Stoke kept pressing and got their reward, sending Southampton back into the bottom three.
Defensive stability has been one of Stoke’s key strengths and there were signs the changes would have a big effect when Southampton scored in the 10th minute. It was the first chance of the game and would have infuriated Stoke manager Tony Pulis as none of his defenders cut out Guly Do Prado’s cross and Lambert had the simple task of poking in at the back post.
The hosts should have been level inside two minutes when Nzonzi’s shot was deflected to Jones in space at the back post but he skewed his shot wide. However, the striker made amends in the 16th minute with a lovely backheel from Shotton’s low cross.
Stoke looked the more likely to add to their tally at that point but handed Southampton a second goal in the 24th minute. There did not look too much danger when Lambert swung in a cross from the right but Robert Huth beat his goalkeeper to the ball and poked it against the bar, leaving Rodriguez a tap-in.
The visitors had their tails up, with Jason Puncheon causing trouble on the right, and he twisted and turned his way past Andy Wilkinson before firing in a shot that Asmir Begovic pushed behind. Puncheon played a key part in Southampton’s third goal after 36 minutes, with his cross headed towards goal by Lambert before Wilkinson stabbed it into his own net.
Stoke started the second half brightly and Michael Kightly fired in a shot from distance that Kelvin Davis comfortably held on to. There was a worrying moment for Pulis when Huth and Wilkinson clashed heads, drawing blood from both, but they were bandaged up and able to continue, although Huth had to change his shorts as well as his shirt.
The Stoke manager threw on a third striker as Jerome replaced Matthew Etherington and Stoke began to pepper the Southampton box with crosses. Southampton could have added a fourth in the 65th minute as they split Stoke’s defence open once again. Lambert played in Rodriguez, who was denied by a fine save from Begovic, but the ball fell to Do Prado with the goal gaping only for the striker to shoot wide. That miss looked costly a minute later as Stoke pulled one back. Southampton failed to deal with a corner and Upson squeezed his shot under Davis.
Stoke’s hopes of getting something from the game were dealt a blow when Nzonzi was shown a straight red card in the 71st minute for a challenge on Jack Cork. Pulis made his final change, sending on Peter Crouch for Kightly, meaning Michael Owen would have to be content with a return to the bench after two months out of the squad.
Jerome was booked for protesting that Maya Yoshida had handled in the area as the hosts desperately sought a late equaliser and when the striker did put the ball in the net shortly after he was flagged for offside.
The striker was not to be denied, though, crashing in a tremendous shot off the underside of the bar as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes and Stoke might even have won it but Davis kept out a Crouch header at the death.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "In the first half I thought we were shocking, I didn't think we deserved anything. We got the goal, and it was a great goal from Kenwyne [Jones]. He most probably missed an easier chance - I still can't believe he's missed it.
"But I thought Southampton were the better team, they deserved their lead. I think we were still tapping ourselves on the back from our performance against Liverpool. And then second half we came out and threw everything at them, even with 10 men I thought we were the team that were going to go on and score more goals.
"At the time I thought [Peter] Crouchy's was the best goal I've ever seen. I was really, really pleased to see [Jerome] Cameron's go in, let's say that."
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins: “We did fantastically well. We have come away from home, where there is a notoriously noisy home support and our fans have could be heard all around the stadium in the first half.
“We scored three very good goals and they have only conceded four here all season. We dominated in the first half and I was really pleased, we started OK in the second half and we had the chance to go four up.”
“We knew we would have to defend, they put the ball in the mixer whether you like it or not and you have to defend that. Manfully the players have done their jobs today and it has taken a wonder goal for them to get the equaliser today.
“We play football, but we knew that we would have to have a mentality to go and compete, because with great respect to Stoke City you have to compete when you come here, and you saw that in the last half an hour they were throwing everything at us.
“Stoke are a massive side and with all the balls they put in the penalty area you have to defend that. Especially in the first half I thought there was some really good play and our game management was spot on. At the end of the day we haven't come away with three points but we have come away with something.”
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