A stubborn and disciplined Stoke City overcame a numerical disadvantage on Wednesday night to hold Southampton to a point.
It was a game that Stoke City perhaps fancied taking all three points from prior to kick-off. A questionable sending off though for Marko Arnautovic limited Stoke’s forward threat, as the Potters held on to avoid defeat.
First-half dismissal changes game
Manager Mark Hughes made three changes to the side that lost at Arsenal at the weekend.
Club captain Ryan Shawcross slotted back in at centre-half, while Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters replaced Biram Diouf and Gianelli Imbula.
Stoke City provided the games first chances. Both Joe Allen and Charlie Adam went close to the Southampton goal with early efforts.
Southampton though, grew into the game and began to dictate matters. Soufiane Boufal tested Lee Grant inside the opening 10 minutes, as Saints started to enjoy too much width.
With the south-coast side on top, Stoke were soon reduced to ten-men. Arnautovic was slightly unfortunate as his studs were raised in a challenge on Boufal and saw red.
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It was a case of keeping the defence tight as the Potters looked to get to half-time on level terms.
Southampton begrudge lack of cutting edge
It was always going to be an uphill battle for Stoke City in the second period.
Southampton, as expected, dictated possession and the balance of play. In keeping with their current troubles in front of goal, however, they lacked any genuine threat to Grant’s goal.
Only Middlesbrough have scored fewer goals than Southampton this season, and that statistic wasn’t looking likely to change.
Ryan Bertrand brought a fine stop out of Grant, as Jay Rodriguez then missed the games best chance as he couldn’t connect with a Boufal cross.
Stoke City had rare ventures into the Southampton half, with the industrious Diouf doing his best to provide a threat.
Walters kept Saints keeper Fraser Forster on his toes, albeit his shot at the near-post was comfortably saved.
A dogged defensive display was enough to carry the Potters over the line as they held on for a well-earned point.
Manager Hughes was full of praise for his players in his post-match interview.