STOKE CITY FC 1 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2
Now I,ve seen no TV highlights,and I've not listened to any radio punditry,commentary or 'Praise and Grumble',so what I'm about to write is what I think I saw at The Britannia Stadium.
The winds were fierce,and their effects seriously unpredictable,a reminder of an earlier time when this fixture was postponed,because the conditions were deemed unplayable.As they left the stadium at the end of the match Stokie voices were heard to remark that it was a pity that referee Mr.Taylor had not come to the same decision as his predecessor.
To say that Stoke were a disappointment in the first half would be something of an understatment.It wasn't that the wind negated a part of our game,rather that,first,some of our team didn't seem to fancy it much,second West Brom adapted better to the conditions.They kept the ball on the ground for the most part,with Dorrans and Morrison,in particular shooting on sight.
Crouchy seemed more than a little out of sorts.It could have been increased wind resistance due to his higher altitude.More likely it was the close attentions of defender Olsson,who,it will be remembered,roughed Kenwyne Jones out of the corresponding match last year.
The Baggies seemed sharper on and to the ball,moving it around quickly on the ground.They presented a real threat down our right side where Woodgate and Shotton had trouble coping.Their shoot on sight policy paid dividends.After some wayward efforts they found their range.We had a warning as Sorensen brought off a fine diving one handed save,tipping a goalbound effort up onto the woodwork,but he was found wanting later,making a hash of saving a firm Morisson drive to concede the opener in rather untidy fashion.
From a Stoke point of view the second half was altogether brighter.We did not have long to wait for Tony Pulis to change things around.Pennant came on to give us much more threat and balance.Things could have been so different had the usually reliable Walters netted from the penalty that he won.But he didn't,Ben Foster getting down well to his right to push the ball away to safety.The visitors hit our post again,and Sorensen made two superb saves before we finally found the net.Lively sub,Jerome headed home with out too much trouble from Pennant's ball in from the right.Relief all round the ground,but not for long.
At the death Walters conceded a needless freekick on the edge of our penalty box.Our normal defensive response would have been organised,but for some reason it seemed uncertain and sloppy .Dorrans took full advantage,driving the ball directly along the ground across the keeper,past stationary defenders into our net for the winner.