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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
22:00 28th February 2011

Stoke 1 Albion 1

ROY Hodgson's brave Baggies bounced straight back out of the relegation zone thanks to super-sub Carlos Vela's second last-gasp leveller in successive games.

Rory Delap's 53rd-minute goal looked like stealing all three points for the hosts in a game where the Potters' Asmir Begovic was the busier goalkeeper.

But loan ranger Vela came on for Jerome Thomas in the 83rd minute - and within four minutes grabbed what could be a season-defining strike.

The point was enough to see Albion jump back above West Ham and Wolves into 17th spot.

Abdoulaye Meite partnered Jonas Olsson at the heart of defence as he made his first Barclays Premier League appearance of the season.

Scott Carson and Steven Reid were also recalled at the back, with Gabriel Tamas, Boaz Myhill and Gonzalo Jara dropping to the bench.

Roy Hodgson also made a fourth change as he adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Peter Odemwingie relegated to the dugout and fit-again Youssouf Mulumbu returning in central midfield.

The first effort of the game came from the hosts - but Carson easily dealt with Ryan Shawcross' header from Danny Pugh's right-wing corner to the back post.

Carson did well twice in the 15th minute to punch clear Delap's famous long throw-ins from under his own crossbar, with the Potters' giant forwards pressurising him.

The England goalkeeper was called into action again in the 23rd minute as he dived to his left to beat out Jermaine Pennant's 25-yard free-kick.

The Baggies took half-an-hour to threaten the hosts' goal when Graham Dorrans drifted past Marc Wilson and Shawcross on the left side of the box.

The Scotland international drilled in a low shot, which Begovic did well to hold in front of the lurking Marc-Antoine Fortuné.

Albion were beginning to grow in confidence and on 33 Jerome Thomas - now on the right wing - combined well with Fortuné, who tested Begovic with a low left-foot strike from the edge of the area.

Chris Brunt conceded a needless foul just outside the box in the 42nd minute when he clattered Pennant - and was booked.

The Baggies skipper was almost doubly punished as Pennant curled the resultant free-kick off the top of the crossbar.

Two minutes before the break, Fortuné headed Brunt's free-kick goalwards and Kenwyne Jones hooked it away - but only to Paul Scharner, who screwed his 15-yard volley wide of the left-hand post.

Albion made the worst possible start to the second half when Delap was allowed to head home Pennant's left-wing corner in the 53rd minute.

Moments later, Jones threaded the ball through and Carson was brave to smother at Dean Whitehead's feet.

At the other end, Begovic dived low to his right to save Dorrans' 20-yard strike before gathering at the second attempt in the 55th minute.

Jonathan Walters then let fly with a 30-yard strike that flew over.

Thomas picked up Dorrans' flick on 58 and drifted past Wilson before drilling a shot just over from the edge of the box.

The visitors came close to levelling on the hour-mark as Dorrans stole in on Reid's right-wing cross, only to see his goalbound header deflect off Shawcross and away off Begovic's knees.

Begovic was in action again three minutes later as he flung himself to his left to palm away Brunt's 25-yard drive.

Thomas cut inside Wilson on 65 - but again fired over from just inside the box.

That was shortly followed by Matthew Etherington replacing John Carew in the Stoke line-up.

Reid produced another good centre on 70 and Fortuné was unfortunate to see his header flick off the top of the crossbar.

Hodgson made a double switch three minutes later as Somen Tchoyi came on for Mulumbu and Odemwingie replaced Fortuné.

Cameroon international Tchoyi slotted in on the right wing, with Brunt moving into the centre alongside Scharner.

Tchoyi was involved again in the 87th minute as his cross rebounded off Danny Pugh into the path of Reid, who found substitute Vela.

There looked to be a suspicion of off-side - but the Mexico international kept his cool to slot home.

Two late scrambles then saw Vela denied twice by Begovic, with Tchoyi's shot also blocked by the City stopper in between.

STOKE (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Pugh; Pennant (Whelan 78), Whitehead, Delap, Walters; Jones (Fuller 83), Carew (Etherington 65). Subs not used: Sorensen (gk), Higginbotham, Collins, Wilkinson.

ALBION (4-2-3-1): Carson; Reid, Meite, Olsson, Shorey; Mulumbu (Tchoyi 73), Scharner; Brunt, Dorrans, Thomas (Vela 83); Fortuné (Odemwingie 73). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Morrison, Tamas, Jara.

GOALS: STOKE - Delap (53). ALBION - Vela (87).

BOOKINGS: STOKE - Shawcross (foul 68), Huth (foul 90+4). ALBION - Mulumbu (foul 22), Brunt (foul 42).

REFEREE: M Oliver (Northumberland).

ATTENDANCE: 25,019.

ALBION STARMAN: Steven Reid.

PIC: BRIT OF ALL RIGHT...Vela levels for Albion in dramatic fashion

    Data provided by Press Association

    QUICK FACTS

    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.