Premier League - Owen bows out as Stoke finish above Southampton

Premier League, St Mary's - Southampton 1 (Lambert 57) Stoke 1 (Crouch 46)

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Michael Owen came on for a quarter of an hour in his last match as his Stoke side earned a 1-1 draw at Southampton on the final weekend of the Premier League season.

While Owen barely touched the ball after his introduction, his former England strike partner Peter Crouch was on target with a header just after the break to give Stoke the lead.

Southampton were back on level terms soon after as Rickie Lambert ended a barren run, and an entertaining match finished all-square to see Stoke finish the season above their opponents by a point.

The match began in a whirlwind as Jay Rodriguez waltzed in from the right and shot low for the far bottom corner, Asmir Begovic saved and Rickie Lambert turned the rebound into the far top corner with just 30 seconds on the clock. However, the striker was yards offside and the goal was ruled out.

There was then a delay as a flare that had been thrown on to the pitch by an irate home fan and emitted thick, red smoke was removed.

Southampton made all the early running in attack, but a stubborn Stoke defence - shorn of Marc Wilson on 19 minutes due to his ongoing hamstring injury - kept Begovic's goal fairly untroubled.

Just before Wilson was replaced by Andy Wilkinson, Southampton countered following a Stoke corner thanks to an excellent sliding tackle from player of the season Morgan Schneiderlin. A galloping Steven Davis fed Adam Lallana as he overlapped on the left, with a top-drawer sliding block from Ryan Shotton averting the danger.

Jonathan Walters wanted a penalty for Stoke when he was denied by a forceful challenge from Frenchman Schneiderlin - turned down by Lee Probert - as the Potters finished the first half as the stronger side.

They were ahead soon into the second period. Geoff Cameron, the only change for Tony Pulis - the American replacing the suspended Charlie Adam - produced a dangerous run and cross from the right and former Southampton striker Crouch glanced a superb header inside the far post.

Stoke sat back almost immediately and Southampton duly took the game to them. On 50 minutes Lambert opened up the away defence with a ball down the channel which allowed Nathaniel Clyne to pull back from the byline for Davis, whose low strike from 18 yards was parried to safety by Begovic.

The Bosnian again denied Saints, this time with his legs, when Lambert crashed a low drive from the edge of the box, but the striker would not be denied on 57 minutes.

A low strike from a Jos Hooiveld lay-off troubled Begovic and Lambert was there to end a six-game drought with his 15th league goal of the season - making him the joint-highest-scoring Englishman in the division with Frank Lampard.

Owen appeared on 74 minutes to a rapturous welcome from everyone inside the ground. He barely had a kick, although he almost connected with two crosses late on.

Begovic was called into action on a couple of further occasions and Saints substitute Emmanuel Mayuka hit the side-netting as the game entered injury-time to set some of the home fans celebrating in error.

But Stoke - who earned their lowest points tally in the top flight this season after a shocking run since Christmas - held out to ensure they finished the season above Southampton.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) - The Frenchman put in a typical player-of-the-season performance at the base of the Saints midfield.

PLAYER RATINGS

Southampton: K Davis 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 6, Hooiveld 6, Shaw 6, Schneiderlin 7, Cork 6, S Davis 7, Rodriguez 7, Lallana 7, Lambert 7. Subs: Mayuka 6, Puncheon 6

Stoke: Begovic 7; Shotton 7, Shawcross 5, Huth 6, Wilson 6; Walters 6, Nzonzi 5, Whitehead 6, Cameron 7, Etherington 6; Crouch 7. Subs: Wilkinson 6, Jerome 6, Owen 5

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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