You have to wonder what it is about Stoke City versus West Bromwich Albion....it’s so long since they beat us that no-one can remember. Many people expressed the fear over the last week that this was a different Baggies setup, that we would not be gifted the points as in days gone by. Yet Stoke pitched up at The Hawthorns, didn’t play at all well, and duly came away with all three points, and to boot three goals, which improved our goal difference to 0!Add to that rising to a dizzying 8th in the Prem, all in all this was a good day. The only concern was Jermaine Pennant leaving the fray early on with a hamstring problem.
The first half was largely forgettable with WBA the better team. Stoke took the lead through a debatable penalty. Keeper Carson came out to meet Kenwyne Jones as the striker tracked across the front edge of the penalty box. There was minimal – if any – contact. Kenwyne went down, Ref Foy made the award in our favour. Matty Etherington cooly slotted the penalty into the bottom right corner of the net. Carson guessed right but the accuracy of the kick beat his despairing dive.
West Bromwich tried to get back into the game, but without any luck at all. They found keeper Begovich in fine form, dealing well with the little he had to do. One point blank save was particularly fine,and brave too, diving as he did, in amongst flying boots as Ibanez looked odds on to score.
Sub Tuncay contributed to the second goal. Working down the left he played a clever ball into Whitehead who was charging down the left side of the penalty box, only to be bundled over by Cech as he attempted to collect the ball. Sub Walters made no mistake with the penalty placing it in the bottom right corner of the net again with Carson this time guessing wrong.
But the fun was not over. Walters won a throw in on the left. Delap’s throw reached Jones on the bye line to left of goal inside the penalty area. He drew in three defenders, outwitted them with a deft backheel to Walters. Carson saved the striker’s first effort brilliantly, but the ball ricocheted back to Walters off a defenders leg. He drove his second effort firmly into the roof of the net.