Albion end Stoke hoodoo at The Hawthorns
BROWN Ideye’s seventh goal of the season ensured Albion recorded their first top-flight victory over Stoke at The Hawthorns since 1984.
The striker showed great movement to get in front of Phil Bardsley and stoop to head the only goal of the game from Craig Gardner’s right-wing cross in the 19th minute.
It proved enough to end a hoodoo and finally secure Albion’s first-ever Barclays Premier League victory over the Potters on home soil at the sixth attempt.
In fact, the Throstles went into the encounter having won in total just one of their last 16 meetings with Stoke and just two of their last 34 league encounters.
But Tony Pulis rewrote the record books against his former employers as the Baggies, in the process, kept their 12th league clean sheet of the season against an in-form Stoke side who went into the clash on the back of three successive victories.
It could have been more comfortable for the Baggies as Ideye saw a goal ruled out for offside, Saido Berahino went close on a number of occasions and Craig Dawson was denied what appeared to be a clear penalty.
Albion strikers Ideye and Berahino both passed late fitness tests to start, while Pulis made three changes from last weekend’s cup defeat at Aston Villa.
Captain Darren Fletcher returned having been cup-tied while there were also recalls for Stephane Sessegnon and Ben Foster.
It was Berahino who was first to go close after just three minutes, his low drive from fully 25 yards pushed wide for a corner by Asmir Begovic.
The England international tested Begovic again just minutes later and it was the Baggies who opened the scoring after 19 minutes.
Gardner whipped in a cross from the right and Ideye escaped the attentions of Bardsley to get down and direct a header past Begovic.
Berahino could have doubled Albion’s lead but he pulled his shot across goal having latched on to Dawson’s superb throughball.
Albion did again have the ball in the net just after the half-hour mark but Ideye, having capitalised on Begovic’s slip-up, was adjudged to be offside when James Morrison first played the ball through.
Tightly-marked Berahino headed off target from Morrison’s right-wing cross early in the second half.
Foster was forced off with a knee injury in the 55th minute to be replaced by Boaz Myhill.
And the Albion number two produced a great save to tip over Jonathan Walters’ flicked header.
Begovic tipped Ideye’s effort around a post at the other end before Albion saw strong penalty appeals waved away after Potters substitute Geoff Cameron upended Dawson in the area.
The impressive Morrison stung the palms of Begovic in the 80th minute and, despite five minutes of injury time, Albion held firm to move on to 33 points for the season.
Albion: Foster (Myhill 55’), Dawson, McAuley, Lescott, Brunt, Morrison, Fletcher, Gardner, Sessegnon, Berahino (Baird 90+5’), Ideye (Olsson 90’).
Subs: Wisdom, Pocognoli, Mulumbu, Gamboa.
GOAL: Ideye 19’
BOOKED: Myhill (foul 90+3’)
Stoke: Begovic, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters (Cameron 45’), Nzonzi, Whelan, Walters (Diouf 68’), Adam, Moses Arnautovic (58’), Crouch.
Subs: Butland, Ireland, Sidwell, Teixeira.
BOOKED: Wilson (foul 53’), Diouf (foul 74’)
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
Albion star man: James Morrison