Writer: Tom Mckeon
Date:Sunday August 28 2011
A last-minute goal from Ryan Shotton stole all three points for Stoke at the Hawthorns in an otherwise uneventful encounter.
A huge blunder by former Stoke keeper Ben Foster left Shotton with a gaping goal to aim at - and the make-shift striker made no mistake in slotting the ball into the back net in front of the Stoke fans, sending them into a delirium.
The Baggies, despite two defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea previously, remained optimistic of a win after last years assured performance at the Britannia Stadium - but the Potters ensured an impressive start to the season continued, breaking the deadlock late on as the game looked certain to end in a draw.
The Potters have now won 20 of the last 29 meetings between the two clubs, with the Baggies coming away victorious just TWICE.
The game lacked quality but Stoke's defensive exploits were again put to the test by a West Brom team desperate to impress in front of their home crowd.
An even first half brought few chances for both teams but warning sirens were clearly ringing early on for Stoke, with Chris Brunt going dangerously close in the opening stages with a glancing header.
However, the Potters also showed ambition going forward, a clever flick on from Kenwyne Jones nearly found the feet Jon Walters, but Ben Foster rushed out of his goal and cleverly snuffed out the situation.
Despite Stoke's attempts of gaining a foot-hold in the match, West Brom were on the attack again; a magnificent save from the ever-reliable Asmir Begovic from a point-blank Shane Long header kept Stoke's heads above water.
The Bosnian has been fantastic for Stoke since joining from Portsmouth & he had to be at his best to deny Long - the Irishmen connecting with a header from a fine Tchoyi cross.
Tchoyi continued to cause Stoke plenty of problems, dragging centre-halves out wide with his unpredictable play and giving the likes of Huth & Wilson plenty to think about.
The Baggies were soon sensing a break-through as Nicky Shorey's cross was half-cleared, but the impressive Mulumbu failed to keep his effort down as he skied the ball into the Stoke fans behind the goal.
Tchoyi was once again Stoke's tormenter as the Cameroon-man fooled Wilson into fouling him just outside of the area - but Brunt's resulting free-kick was disappointing, the Northern Ireland star dragging the ball high & wide of Begovic's goal.
As the Potters finally started to settle, Marc Wilson pulled up with a hamstring injury, meaning his replacement Andy Wilkinson took Robert Huth's place at right back, the German was now faced with the task of playing in his even more unfavoured position of left back.
Huth was still getting to grips with his surroundings when a Chris Brunt cross was casually chested by him towards Begovic - Shane Long was lurking but Stoke's keeper managed to get in front of the striker.
The only genuine Stoke chance of the first-half came on the stroke of half-time, Etherington broke free of Stephen Reid's advances before powering into the penalty area and lifting a cross towards Jermaine Pennant who directed his header wide of the goal.
The half-time whistle came and Stoke re-emerged from the break revitalised.
Glenn Whelan continued on from his impressive performance against FC Thun on Thursday, the Ireland midfielder ghosted into the penalty area, recieving the ball after intelligent link-up play from Pennant and Walters, but his improvised effort fell just shy of Foster's left hand post as the Potters looked to gain an advantage.
Stoke certainly started the half brighter and their possession continued as the Baggies seemed more and more content in letting the Potters have the ball.
West Brom's patient approach was nearly rewarded moments later though as the ball fell to Tchoyi, who unleashed a belting volley which probably would've bust the net if it were on target - but it flew harmlessly(or not so if you were behind the goal) into the stands.
Etherington and Pennant were struggling to make much of an impact on the game and Danny Pugh and Ryan Shotton replaced the two star men who were looking increasingly tired.
As the end was nigh, the game became stretched as both teams threw caution to the wind in an effort to snatch the points.
West Brom had won three successive corners and Begovic was again tested from close range as Mulumbu struck a shot straight down his throat.
As injury-time came, both teams seemed rather happy with the point and looked to play the game out.
But what came next was quite simply, unbelievable.
A long, hopefully punt by Jon Walters saw West Brom keeper Ben Foster scamper out of his goal, it looked for all of the world that the former Man United keeper would simply pick the ball up but Shotton's pressure caused Foster to hesitate and the local-lad nipped in to steal the ball and stroke the ball into an empty net - the 22-year-old looked equally shocked as he was delighted as he ran towards the ecstatic Stokies who were wildly celebrating an unlikely and terrific win.
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Date:Sunday August 28 2011
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