West Bromwich Albion 1 Stoke City 1: Barnett earns parity but Stoke hex continues

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The Independent Online

Still West Bromwich Albion cannot conjure up a way of beating Stoke City. Despite a long overdue equaliser from their central defender Leon Barnett 16 minutes from time, this attritional draw means they have won only one of the past 22 league meetings of the sides.

Stoke's approach is rugged rather than a thing of beauty, but they threatened a victory until Barnett nodded in after Zoltan Gera headed back Filipe Teixeira's free-kick from the left. They then led a charmed life as Steve Simonsen saved well from Sherjill MacDonald and bettered it by denying Gera and the clean-through Ishmael Miller in the final onslaught.

"I was delighted with our display," said the Albion manager, Tony Mowbray. "It was full of determination, quality and endeavour and I enjoyed watching it."

Third-placed Albion, who had scored 13 goals in their four opening Championship home games, provided a searching test of Stoke's resilience throughout a niggly contest.

Although without their injured six-goal leading scorer, Kevin Phillips, they

attacked attractively and repeatedly while finding a breakthrough more elusive

than in Sunday's annihilation of Queen's Park Rangers.

Simonsen's heroics started when he palmed round the post as Miller advanced on to Robert Koren's pass. Then, Barnett might have done better than glance wide a centre by Teixeira.

Albion's supremacy was challenged only by a well-saved John Eustace shot before Stoke scored against the run of play just before the half-hour.

Liam Lawrence crossed well following his own left-wing corner and the on-loan

Manchester United reserve defender Ryan Shawcross, 20 today, headed home firmly from what seemed an offside position.

"Our effort and commitment were absolutely first-class," said the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis. "We have to work hard on our spirit and organisation."

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Hoefkens (Gera, 67), Barnett, Albrechtsen, Robinson; Morrison, Koren, Greening, Teixeira (McDonald, 76); Beattie, Miller. Substitutes not used: Steele (gk), Pele, Brunt.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Wright, Shawcross, Zakuani (Dickinson, 34), Wilkinson; Lawrence, Eustace, Matteo, Cresswell; Fuller, Sidibe (Parkin, 64). Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Sweeney, Pericard.

Referee: C Oliver (Northumberland).

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