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Stoke City's losing streak came to an end but they had to settle for a point after failing to make a breakthrough against West Bromwich Albion 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 West Brom goal, though, with a deflected Jon Walters effort being their closest attempt.
The match improved 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. Stoke substitute Kenwyne Jones passed up a good opportunity in stoppage time, with Ben Foster claiming his shot. The result takes Stoke up to 10th place in the table, while Albion stay eighth.
West Brom won a free-kick in a promising position in the second minute after Ryan Shotton slid in on Jerome Thomas, but Lukaku could not fashion a decent shot when the set-piece was laid to him. A minute later Brunt sent a speculative attempt into the stand, before Cameron Jerome looped a header over the bar at the other end. Brunt then broke into the box and hit an effort at Begovic, who gathered at the second attempt.
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. 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. Jerome whipped the ball across the area on the turn just after the half-hour mark, but it went out for a throw-in.
Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan, who had been on the receiving end of a high boot from James Morrison at the end of the first half, was substituted for Dean Whitehead at the interval. Shortly after the restart, the in-form Lukaku - scorer of eight goals in his previous 11 Barlcays Premier League games - got his head to a 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. Marc Wilson, again playing at centre-back for Stoke in the absence of the suspended Robert Huth, headed the ball away when Lukaku just failed to make connection with Liam Ridgewell's cross into the danger zone.
West Brom continued to press, with Begovic getting a palm to a ball into the six-yard box and it going over via another player - seemingly Lukaku. Stoke manager Tony Pulis reacted by bringing on Jones for Crouch, while Albion boss Steve Clarke replaced Thomas with Peter Odemwingie.
More substitutions followed, with Charlie Adam coming on for Jerome and Lukaku being withdrawn for Shane Long, but it made little difference to proceedings. Youssouf Mulumbu struck off-target with around 15 minutes remaining and 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. 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.
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis: "It was a very competitive game with not many chances and at the end Kenwyne [Jones] had the best chance. Unfortunately for us, that's gone straight at [Ben] Foster. When things are going for you it goes into the corner.
"But a draw gets us off 33 points which has been a millstone round our neck. The greatest thing about today was the crowd turned up and were great. There has been a bit of discontent around the place but they were fabulous from the first minute to the last minute.”
West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke: "It was a hard-earned point. We defended well. We tried to get the ball down and play, but Stoke made it difficult for us to make passes. It is a difficult place top come. We defended well, we were strong. The positive for us is a clean sheet and point away from home."
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|06 Apr 2013||v Aston Villa (H)|
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