Diouf double sinks West Brom
28th January 2014 3pm
Stoke City picked up back to back victories for the first time this season with a routine 2-0 win against midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion thanks to a quick fire double from Mame Diouf.
The Potters made one change from the side which battled to victory at Everton only two days previous with peter Crouch returning in place of Jon Walters who was suffering with illness to start up front.
The early exchanges were tight and the game lacked urgency which was probably explained by the hectic fixture list for both sides.
The first talking point of the game came as Glenn Whelan found himself in unfamiliar territory in the opposition's box before taking a tumble after it seemed he was clipped from behind. Stoke's protests were waved away and the game continued.
West Brom grew into the game and threatened Stoke's goal with Brown Ideye wasting a great one-on-one chance against Begovic before Sessegnon also tested the Bosnian keeper.
Stoke's first real opportunity inevitably came through Bojan. The Spaniard played a neat one two with Marc Muniesa before whipping a shot just wide of the post with Ben Foster left stranded hoping the ball would miss.
The game continued in this fashion for the rest of the first half as both teams were restricted to tame efforts from long distance, which meant the score was level at 0-0 going into half time.
It was the 51st minute when the Potters did manage to make the breakthrough, and it was a lovely move too.
Bojan was again involved picking up the ball and spreading play out to the left for the Erik Pieters to rush onto it before pulling back neatly for Mame Diouf who drilled the ball into the net from 12 yards out. It was a neat touch and finish from the Senegal man who had looked bereft of confidence in the past few games and the joy could be seen right across his face.
But the Baggies were not lying down, Alan Irvine threw on his subs in an effort to save his job and they almost made an immediate impact when his team fired a high free kick into the box and Gareth McAuley was only denied through a combination of Begovic, Shawcross and the woodwork.
Within a couple of minutes though the game was over. Bojan again broke free before feeding Arnautovic whose shot appeared to be heading wide, but the ball took a wicked deflection off Diouf to leave Foster stranded and put Stoke 2-0 up which finished the game as a contest.
The relief was clear to see around the ground as the Stoke fans could now relax and chants of 'We always beat West Brom' could be heard around the ground.
But there was still business to be taken care of, firstly Bojan was taken off to try and protect him for bigger tasks to come, and Shawcross continued to marshall his defence to a second consecutive clean sheet, which can only help the team moving forwards.
The Potters end the year in high spirits following back-to-back wins and cleans sheets. Just the small matter of Man Utd at home to come on New Years Day then.