.STOKE CITY FC 1 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1
Very much a game of two halves, but a first half which provided pointers as to what would happen later.Stoke subjected the supposedly frail Albion defence to the usual welcoming barrage,although with not the sustained ferocity of recent home matches.Albion seemed altogether more resilient in defence than in days gone by,and showed themselves no longer averse to the physical challenge,with more than a little cynical edge,which the ref did not appear to see nor penalise often enough.Both linesmen looked decidly dodgy.Albion’s formation confirmed they had come for a point,anything better would be a bonus.
Stoke seemed somewhat out of sorts and disjointed at times.Jermaine Pennant shone against an otherwise drab backdrop.His splendid corner from the left was headed in at the near post by Rory Delap,as Albion watched the big men in the centre of goal.Having taken the lead Stoke did not follow up for a second.If anything the pressure began to build from the visitors,especially after they made substitutions around 70 minutes.Stoke were forced back (sat back....difficult to tell),and almost half an hour after scoring and with four minutes to go they conceded.
Now you have to wonder whether this particular linesman should feature in the next Specsavers ad.He was stood in the right place,looking straight along the Stoke defensive line (even had the groundsman’s carefully mown lines in the grass as a reference)yet he failed to register two definite and seriously obvious WBA offsides, before Vela,from an offside position, scuffed the equaliser.
Insult could have been added to injury in added on time,as Begovic made a series of superlative saves,culminating in a wonderful block on Vela’s goal bound effort with just seconds to go,to ensure WE at least got one point.
A curiously below par effort by Stoke.