Post by Football News on Sept 28, 2016 3:50:17 GMT
Stoke 1 - 1 West Brom
Salomón Rondón denies Stoke first win with late equaliser for West Brom
Home team scorers Joe Allen 73
Away team scorers Jose Salomon Rondon 90 +0:20
A first league victory of the season for Stoke was the only milestone that mattered to Mark Hughes on a day when Tony Pulis took charge of a team for the 1,000th time. Stoke looked on course for just that after Joe Allen scored in the 73rd minute.
But they did not make it over the line, as Salomón Rondón headed into their net from a corner in stoppage time. Stoke used to celebrate late goals for Pulis’s team but they cursed this one.
“It felt like a loss,” said Hughes, who could take encouragement from a strong performance by his team and the fact that a point was enough to hoist them off the foot of the table.
Pulis, who has spent nearly half of his career in the Stoke dugout, was welcomed back warmly to his old patch but Stoke fans’ affections did not extend to the visiting players, whose every touch was booed from the first second. That reflected defiance in the face of Stoke’s poor start to the season and was combined with loud encouragement for the home team.
Stoke’s players were similarly upbeat, betraying no sign of disenchantment, just a hunger to quash Albion.
It made for a rousing first period in which clear chances were scarce but the threat of a breakthrough was always present.
Albion were no bystanders, indeed they fired the first shot. But Rondón’s curler in the sixth minute whizzed wide, meaning that Lee Grant did not have to make his first Premier League save since joining Stoke on loan from Derby County in the summer.
The 33-year-old was picked instead of Shay Given as part of Hughes’s plan to solidify a leaky defence.
Although Rondón had three more shots off target in the first half, Stoke were on top. Their midfield, with Allen thriving in an advanced role, pestered the visitors relentlessly and, when they won the ball, attacked immediately.
In the 25th minute Glenn Whelan pinged a cross to Wilfried Bony, who headed the ball across the six-yard box. Glen Johnson lifted it over the advancing Ben Foster, only for Craig Dawson to head off the line.
Twice Eric Pieters fell under untidy tackles by Matt Phillips but no penalties were given. Hughes ran through the full Basil Fawlty routine – in his technical area so as not to incur another fine – but conceded after seeing replays that “both were close calls, in fairness”.
Early in the second half Allen nearly gave Stoke the goal they craved but Dawson denied them again, deflecting the midfielder’s header over.
Bony was the only home player to disappoint, strong in possession but lacking the mobility to be in regular synch with his team-mates. He was replaced on the hour by Peter Crouch.
Stoke claimed the reward for their persistence in the 73rd minute when Xherdan Shaqiri crossed from the left and Jonny Evans failed to make a clean clearance owing to a challenge by Marko Arnautovic. Allen shot into the net from eight yards. He was a fitting scorer.
“[Allen’s] got good anticipation of things dropping around the box and that showed for the goal,” said Hughes. “That’s why he left Liverpool, because he wanted to play week in, week out and we’ve given him the run of games. He’s been a shining light for us, he’s been the one hitting the levels we expect.”
Grant preserved the lead with a fine save from a header by James McClean but he could not keep out Rondón’s header at the death.
So it was yet another happy day at Stoke for Pulis. “The place is wonderful and the crowd were fantastic to me when I was here,” said the Albion manager. “It’s been stitched into my body this football club. I’ll always have respect for them.”