Stoke, WBA share spoils
Mark Hughes (Getty Images)
Stoke - Stoke were left lamenting a Stephen Ireland miss and West Bromwich Albion a disputed decision after a goalless draw between the Premier League rivals at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
West Brom's Youssouf Mulumbu was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after being clipped by Charlie Adam in the second half.
Ireland could have made the Baggies even angrier moments later but blazed over the top of the bar and West Brom then had the last opportunity, in a game of few chances, to win the match only for Stephane Sessegnon to shoot straight at Asmir Begovic.
A largely uninspiring first half saw Sessegnon work his way into the Stoke box before a good challenge by the industrious Steven Nzonzi ended his run.
Sessegon saw a snap-shot go just wide of the post and nearly scored when he evaded two tackles following good work by Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino before Begovic blocked his shot.
Begovic, fresh from helping Bosnia qualify for the World Cup in midweek, was then quickly off his line to smother a shot from French winger Morgan Amalfitano, played in by Sessegnon.
Benin attacking midfielder Sessegnon was at the heart of the Baggies' best work but Stoke, cutting off the supply line, gradually forced their way back into the match.
Jonathan Walters had a long-range effort saved comfortably by Boaz Myhill and Adam headed well over from a corner.
An increasingly fractious match saw World Cup final referee Howard Webb hand out several bookings, although Adam was fortunate to escape punishment for catching Sessegnon on the ankle.
But the Scot was even luckier 10 minutes into the second-half when he clipped Mulumbu's heel inside Stoke's box.
Webb, however, dismissed the penalty appeal and Mulumbu's overly-dramatic fall probably didn't help his cause even though replays suggested he had been fouled.
Austria's Marco Arnautovic then released Ireland with a fine through ball but the midfielder wastefully struck his first-time shot high over the crossbar.
West Brom sent on Nicolas Anelka and Shane Long in a bid to break the deadlock but it was Sessegnon who so nearly secured all three points only for his weaving run to end in the disappointment of a shot directly at Begovic.