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Saints end season with 1-0 defeat to Stoke

The summer speculation regarding Claude Puel’s job security kicks off following a difficult end to the season.

Southampton v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Claude Puel will face a nervous start to his summer following Southampton’s 1-0 defeat to Stoke City on the final day of the Premier League season.

The Frenchman’s substitutions were greeted by pockets of, “You don’t know what you’re doing”, from the home support at St Mary’s, which hasn’t seen a goal in five matches -- a feat last achieved in 1937.

Many, meanwhile, displayed their discontent and left ahead of the full-time whistle and missed out on the lap of appreciation.

Peter Crouch compounded the misery scoring against his former club whilst Jack Butland put on a sensational display to deny an equaliser on numerous occasions.

Steven Davis, James Ward-Prowse, Manolo Gabbiadini and Sofiane Boufal all had point-blank attempts saved over the final 20 minutes.

Despite the result, Southampton finished the campaign in eighth place, but level on points with neighbours Bournemouth.

Mame Biram Diouf nearly sent Stoke on their way after just 25 seconds, but Fraser Forster was Johnny on the spot to deny an early opening goal.

Southampton almost contributed to their own undoing when a poor back pass from Cedric required Maya Yoshida to thwart a charging Crouch with 27 minutes gone.

Cedric, however, atoned for his mistake as he cleared Diouf’s header off the line on the stroke of half-time just before Nathan Redmond failed to capitalised on a goalkeeping error.

Butland, who was superb all afternoon, was caught in possession outside of his box and Redmond narrowly missed giving Saints a lead with the keeper 25 yards off his lines.

Crouch found a breakthrough on the hour mark when he easily won an aerial duel against the smaller Cedric to nod home Geoff Cameron’s cross and give Stoke a 1-0 lead.

Southampton then made a double change, which drew ire from St Mary’s and was the beginning of a volatile ending to a largely frustrating season.

Butland first denied Davis before recovering quickly to block aside Ward-Prowse’s follow-up attempt on 73 minutes.

Gabbiadini, who came off the bench, failed to convert one-on-one as Butland got a hand to the attempt whilst Boufal also had his shot saved nearing full-time.

Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Stephens, Yoshida, Cedric, Romeu, Davis, Ward-Prowse (Pied 86), Redmond, Tadic (Boufal 65), Austin (Gabbiadini 65).

Unused subs: Taylor (GK), Caceres, Clasie, Hojbjerg.

Goals: None.

Bookings: Boufal (71), Stephens (90)

Stoke City: Butland, Cameron, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Diouf (Walters 70), Whelan, Allen, Pieters, Shaqiri (Muniesa 90+2), Crouch, Ramadan.

Unused subs: Grant (GK), Bardsley, Johnson, Berahino, Adam, Walters.

Goals: Crouch (60).

Bookings: Allen (53), Whelan (63), Ramadan (67), Shaqiri (90).