Allen leads 10-man Stoke to hard-earned draw vs. Southampton
Stoke put in a defensive masterclass to overcome a contentious red card shown to Marko Arnautovic in the 23rd minute and claim a point in the 0-0 draw with Southampton. It was a decision that dictated what quickly descended into an ill-tempered affair amid a chorus of jeers from an inspiring crowd desperate to play their part. It ended up being a game spent largely on the back foot but the discipline and professionalism of the ten men kept waves of opposition attacks at bay and a point is the least they deserved for their herculean efforts.
Having gone down to ten men the game could so easily have gone against them but the players controlled the game brilliantly and showed that, despite being made up of more brain than brawn these days, they are more than capable of rolling up their sleeves and grinding out a result.
Arnautovic's tackle was more clumsy than malicious but nonetheless is one that means he now serves a suspension during a busy period for an already depleted squad.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Mark Hughes decided to revert to his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation and make three changes to a group that had previously impressed. He led the team well from the bench and could often be seen giving encouragement to his players and the crowd to keep the effort and noise going. Should arguably have subbed off Charlie Adam earlier than he did for the more defensive Marc Muniesa but it's perhaps unfair to criticise him too much.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Lee Grant, 8 -- Under the cosh in the second half and despite one or two moments of indecision made a handful of crucial interventions including a stunning save on the hour mark.
DF Glen Johnson, 8 -- Did well considering how overrun his side of the pitch was with the marauding Ryan Bertrand. Naturally on the back foot for the majority of the game but used his strength and experience well.
DF Ryan Shawcross, 8 -- Dealt well with Shane Long in the air who, for a small man, is a match for anyone. Martialled the side's defensive effort and enjoyed the challenge of keeping the ball away from the goal at all costs.
DF Bruno Martins Indi, 8 -- Seemed to shine in a real backs-to-the-wall effort against a relentless Southampton attack. Made a few crucial interceptions and clearances under pressure, yet still managed to use the ball well in possession.
DF Erik Pieters, 8 -- Showed impressive acceleration to break rank from a deep line and intercept or tackle against an increasingly frustrated Southampton attack. Only behind Joe Allen and Glen Johnson for tackles made on the night.
MF Xherdan Shaqiri, 6 -- Struggled to impose his game once the side went down to ten men and looked lightweight when expected to carry the ball up the pitch.
MF Glenn Whelan, 7 -- A comforting defensive presence in midfield and his positioning was much needed during the second half in particular. Put his head in where it hurts in the final minute to clear the ball knowing full well it would be a painful move.
MF Charlie Adam, 7 -- Dug in manfully and put in a better than expected, disciplined performance but a game on the back foot is not one for him.
MF Marko Arnautovic, 6 -- Looked the brightest player on the pitch in the opening exchanges with a number of clever passes and lung-busting recovery runs to help out the defence. Made a clumsy challenge that was deemed worthy of an early bath by referee Anthony Taylor.
MF Joe Allen, 9 -- A much needed all-action performance and despite a booking for dissent in the first half showed impressive self-control for the remainder of the game. Was consistently the first to face up to each of the visitors' attacks; recording the highest number of tackles on the pitch.
FW Jon Walters, 7 -- Led the line well amid a thankless task of trying to make something from nothing. Struggled to create opportunities on the ball but worked tirelessly to defend from the front.
DF Marc Muniesa, N/R -- Brought on to see out the final stages but didn't have much of the ball.
MF Mame Diouf, 8 -- Relentless endeavour from the Senegalese who chased down every lost cause and more than chipped in defensively, as well. His athleticism, agility and pace really helped the side when legs and minds started to tire.
James Whittaker is ESPN FC's Stoke blogger. Follow him on Twitter: @northstokie