Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Potters held in Baggies stalemate

Jon Walters came closest to breaking the deadlock for the home side

Stoke's losing streak came to an end but they had to settle for a point after failing to make a breakthrough as they recorded a goalless draw against West Brom at the Britannia Stadium.

After Asmir Begovic kept out an early strike from Albion captain Chris Brunt, the hosts - who went into the contest having lost their last three Barclays Premier League games and seven of their previous nine - were the better side in a scrappy first half. They could not pose any great threat to the Baggies goal, though, with a deflected Jon Walters effort being their closest attempt.

The match improved slightly after the break, but neither team could find a winner, with West Brom's Romelu Lukaku and Stoke's Peter Crouch unable to convert headers.

It had been a fairly lively opening from the Baggies, but the hosts began to settle down from there, albeit without carving out any really clear-cut opportunities.

Geoff Cameron chested down from a failed attempted clearance by West Brom and fired off-target, and there were then claims that Ben Foster had handled the ball outside the area. Referee Mike Dean judged that the England goalkeeper had been fouled by Cameron Jerome on his way out of the box and awarded a free-kick to the visitors.

Crouch was next to send a header too high, before Walters saw a shot from outside the box deflect off Jonas Olsson and spin just wide.

Shortly after the restart, the in-form Lukaku - scorer of eight goals in his previous 11 Premier League games - got his head to a Jerome Thomas cross, but it bounced through to Begovic.

Within a minute, Crouch nodded the ball onto the roof of Foster's net from a Matthew Etherington delivery.

Youssouf Mulumbu struck off-target with around 15 minutes remaining and Marc Wilson then headed wide from a corner.

Ryan Shawcross fired a shot against Foster towards the end, but the assistant linesman's flag was raised. Kenwyne Jones was in a similar position in the box at the death and onside as he chested the ball down, but he could not put his shot beyond Foster.