Albion were beaten 1-0 by Stoke City with the Baggies tasting Sky Bet Championship defeat for just the third time this season on a frustrating evening at The Hawthorns.
Slaven Bilić’s men were unable to translate dominance in possession into clear-cut goalscoring opportunities with Tyrese Campbell’s early strike enough to claim all three points for the Potters.
The Baggies boss made two changes to his starting XI with Ahmed Hegazi taking the place of Semi Ajayi while Grady Diangana’s return was cut short on four minutes when he pulled up through injury.
The disappointment of Diangana’s departure was compounded further when Stoke took a ninth-minute lead.
Tom Ince showed great pace to get in behind Hegazi before crossing to Campbell who duly slotted inside the left upright from eight yards.
Jack Butland kept out Matheus Pereira’s header on the goalline after Stoke failed to defend Kenneth Zohore’s header from Hegazi’s left-flank cross.
Goalmouth action remained at a premium for much of the opening 45 minutes with the stop-start nature of the game hindering Bilić’s Baggies despite their dominance in possession.
However, Albion sprung into action five minutes before the interval with Matt Phillips’ 25-yard strike dipping just over the crossbar before Zohore headed wide of the back post from Hal Robson-Kanu’s inswinging cross.
Pereira went closer still with a stoppage-time free-kick but his left-foot drive drifted just wide of the far post from 25 yards and the Baggies trailed at the break.
Albion forced the Potters deep in the opening exchanges of the second half with Darnell Furlong drawing a low save from Butland, before Robson-Kanu pushed a diving-header wide from Zohore’s cross.
But it was the visitors who almost doubled their lead with a rare foray into Albion’s half on the hour mark - Lee Gregory dragging wide from 12 yards after being played in by Joe Allen.
Albion continued to dominate the ball but it was Johnstone who was called into action nine minutes later when he dived down low to parry Martins Indi’s fierce strike.
It was attack versus defence from then on with Stoke firmly camped in their own half. Bilić signalled his intent for the final 15 minutes when Charlie Austin joined Zohore in attack and Chris Brunt replaced Conor Townsend at left-back.
The set-piece specialist was heavily involved as the Baggies pursued an equaliser that ultimately did not come.
ALBION: Johnstone; Furlong, Bartley, Hegazi, Townsend (Brunt 75); Livermore (c), Sawyers; Phillips, Pereira, Diangana (Zohore 4); Robson-Kanu (Austin 75).
Subs: Bond; Ajayi, Krovinović, Edwards.