A Fan's View: Stoke 0 Albion 0

Last updated : 17 March 2013 By Wba-mad Editor
Stoke played out a dull draw with West Brom in a game that was certain to fill Match of the Day's final slot. There was the air of a mid-table feel about the derby, but this didn't detract from the superb atmosphere.

Tony Pulis and Steve Clarke made one change each for the Britannia clash. Fit-again Matt Etherington replaced Any Wilkinson for the Potters, while Jerome Thomas started in place of the injured Graham Dorrans.

The game took a while to get going. Albion saw a lot of the ball but a Cameron Jerome header at the other end was the closest chance early on.

The first opening for the Baggies nearly produced the opener. Much talked about Romelu Lukaku laid the ball off to James Morrison, he played in Chris Brunt and, although the angle was tight, got his shot away. Begovic could only parry before claiming the ball at the second attempt.

Just before the half hour mark, Walters turned on the edge of the area and his effort took a huge deflection, looping the ball just the other side of the far post. It had Ben Foster scrambling.

Albion looked comfortable on the ball. Billy Jones was performing well against the threatening Etherington, while Mulumbu and Yacob were calm on the ball up against the intimidating N'Zonzi. McAuley and Olsson were nullifying Stoke's set-pieces impressively.

We were just waiting for something to happen that would spark a reaction from the opposition, and spark the game into life. It didn't come.

H-T: 0-0

Albion came out shooting towards their fans in the second half, and showed their intents immediately. Jerome Thomas cut on his run down the left, delivered a right footed curling cross onto Lukaku's head, but the Belgian could only direct it straight at Asmir Begovic.

The almost anonymous Peter Crouch headed onto the roof of Foster's net not long after, while Etherington's quality of delivery continued to be of a high standard.

The visitors enjoyed a period of pressing after that. Ridgewell's first time cross just evaded Lukaku, the ball was retained and finally fell to Brunt who blasted over.

A Brunt set-play nearly led to something on the hour. The Northern Irish captain's free-kick on the edge of the area sneaked through the wall and found it's way to Jones. The right back had time to pick a man out, and found Lukaku. The Belgian didn't seem to anticipate it and managed to end up deflecting it over the bar. On second viewing it was a golden opportunity.

Substitutions from both sides had an effect on the game. The controversial Peter Odemwingie (even more so after his Twitter outburst today) didn't manage to test Begovic with a couple of shots from distance. Charlie Adam's corner picked out the impressive Marc Wilson, who headed just wide after escaping his marker.

Mulumbu was picked out on the other side of the box by sub Shane Long, volleying over, but producing a hollywood dive from Bosnian Begovic. Odemwingie soon after shot straight at the much fancied keeper who in truth didn't have much to do all afternoon.

Stoke ended the game the stronger, Kenwyne Jones offering more of a threat than Crouch did in the hour or so he was on the pitch. Heading into stoppage time, the Trinidadian headed ultimately to himself and prodded the ball towards goal, but Foster was able to collect without too much discomfort.

I fancy Clarke will be much happier with the point, and a clean sheet also. For Stoke, it remains one win this calendar year, but have Villa to visit the Brit next.

Match ratings: STO- Begovic 7, Cameron 7, Shawcross 6, Wilson 7, Shotton 6, Whelan 5 (Whitehead 5), N'Zonzi 7, Etherington 7, Walters 6, Jerome 7 (Adam 6), Crouch 5 (Jones 6). 

WBA- Foster 7, Jones 7, McAuley 7, Olsson 6, Ridgewell 6, Yacob 7, Mulumbu 7, Morrison 5 (Fortune n/a) Thomas 6 (Odemwingie 5), Brunt 6, Lukaku 6 (Long 5). 

Have your say on Albion's draw here at Baggies Banter.