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Saints held to Stoke draw
Updated 5:56pm Saturday 8th February 2014 in Football
Saints were twice pegged back as they were held to a 2-2 St Mary’s draw with Stoke.
Though the result made it seven games unbeaten in all competitions for Saints they would have been disappointed only to get a point from a game in which they twice led.
Rickie Lambert gave Saints the lead from a free kick after six minutes before a frantic period of three goals in six minutes before half time.
Peter Odemwingie levelled for Stoke before Steven Davis restored Saints’ advantage.
However, former Saints striker Peter Crouch equalised and there were no further goals in the second period meaning it finished with a point apiece.
Blustery conditions made the St Mary's encounter a battle of wills, with the odd sudden downpour making life even tougher for both sides.
All four Premier League encounters between these sides have now ended level.
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.
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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