Just as West Bromwich Albion were despairing again at the hands of their opponents from hell, along they came with a 90th-minute winner that climaxed a performance full of enterprise and secured their third away victory in just over a month.
Only once in 28 League meetings of the clubs had they emerged triumphant – and that when Stoke City had two players sent off at The Hawthorns in September, 2003. But, from a free-kick, Graham Dorrans struck his first for 11 months to put the final seal on an afternoon of sheer misery for Thomas Sorensen.
On the occasion of his 400th career Premier League appearance, the keeper had been left hugely embarrassed just past the half-hour when allowing the game's star turn, James Morrison, to open the scoring in between two tremendous shots against the woodwork.
The Dane's fortunes contrasted sharply with those of his opposite number, Ben Foster, who returned to his first club to preserve Albion's lead by brilliantly saving Jonathan Walters' penalty. Stoke still seemed to have saved a point through Cameron Jerome five minutes from time but justice was ultimately done.
"It was very strong of our team to come back and get the winning goal when most would have thought Stoke had the impetus," said Albion's manager Roy Hodgson. "The club have been waiting for this result for nearly 30 years, home or away. These excellent away results are compensating for our home disappointments and I thought the players who came in did a fantastic job."
Near-gale conditions had the Britannia Stadium at its uninviting worst as far as Albion were concerned in their quest to start redressing one of football's most lop-sided records. With injuries biting, Hodgson made five changes for his 200th Premier League game as a managerand was handsomely rewarded.
The inclusion of Marc-Antoine Fortuné and Gabriel Tamas, the latter for the first time since September, added necessary height to his side, although Fortuné was excellent in his hold-up play.
In the 26th minute Morrison's 25-yard shot on the run looked destined for the far top corner until Sorensen dived to fingertip spectacularly on to the bar.
The midfielder got lucky less than 10 minutes later. In the centre circle, he took possession of Youssuf Mulumbu's headed return to Robert Huth's long clearance and ran through the centre. Although his right-foot drive was this time low, it took a decisive last-second swerve and somehow squirmed away from the keeper and over the line.
Morrison also volleyed Mulumbu's pass against the post in the second half. His decision to celebrate his goal with a gesture, apparently rude, to Stoke fans in the Seddon Stand was the only questionable part of his outstanding contribution.
Stoke were poor in the first half but the inevitable onslaught eventually came. Visitors beaten in their previous three League games were gradually pushed back and, after Foster had gone right to beat away Walters' thunderous 71st minute penalty after a borderline tackle on the striker by Gareth McAuley, the equaliser came when Jerome glanced home a header from a right-wing free-kick by his fellow substitute Jermaine Pennant.
Just as Stoke had won at Albion in August with a last-gasp goal, so they were floored by one here. Dorrans' 25-yard free-kick from the left brought a distracting run across goal by Jonas Olsson, causing Sorensen to be beaten low at his far post.
It was only Stoke's second defeat in 10 top-flight games and their manager Tony Pulis appeared more forgiving of his keeper for conceding the first goal than he was the second. "Anything that side should have been Thomas's," he said. "But we were very, very flat in the first half after a great run."
One more worry for Stoke is the wait to see whether the FA take any action over a first-half grapple round the face of Olsson by Peter Crouch that was captured on camera.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Woodgate (Pennant, 53), Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Shotton (Jerome, 79), Whelan, Delap (Wilkinson, 88), Etherington; Walters, Crouch.
West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Foster; Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Mulumbu; Cox (Tchoyi, 85), Dorrans, Morrison, Thomas (Dawson, 90); Fortuné (Long, 83).
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Morrison (West Bromwich)
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content