Stoke City's early-season form suggested relegation was the likely outcome to this campaign. Two months in and they had recorded only one win, but yesterday they rose to a play-off position after beating fellow promotion hopefuls West Bromwich Albion, recording their fourth successive League win in the process.
A first-half penalty from Danny Higginbotham was enough to secure victory for Tony Pulis' side, though the scoreline did not reflect the true story of the game, with Albion little more than onlookers.
"It was a smashing result," said Pulis. "We have played well recently and to perform like that again is pleasing."
The impressive Stoke midfielder Lee Hendrie, who is on-loan from Aston Villa, was playing a leading role as Stoke dominated. They took the lead on 40 minutes when Darel Russell fell in the penalty area under the challenge of Martin Albrechtsen. Higginbotham fired home the spot-kick. What followed from Albion was half-hearted and at times, desperately poor.
A downbeat Tony Mowbray said: "We were not good enough in lots of departments. The performance was not acceptable."
Hendrie and the substitute Patrik Berger, making his debut following his loan deal from Villa Park this week, came closest to adding to Stoke's lead late on.
Pulis added: "You need that little bit of quality. The better teams in the division have that and Lee and Patrik bring that."