"Two-one to the football team," sang West Bromwich Albion's supporters in celebration of a belatedly secured but fully deserved victory. They have had to wait three decades to lord it in the Potteries, so no one could really blame them for crowing.
So complete and so extraordinary has been Albion's embarrassment in the fixture, home or away, that Stoke City perhaps thought they just had to turn up to win after kicking off 2012 with three excellent away results. It has, after all, seemed that way for them and their predecessors. The ending of 30 years of hurt got the better of James Morrison, the game's outstanding performer and not a man given to courting controversy. His gesture to home fans after opening the scoring was less than friendly and he was busy saying sorry after an afternoon when he also shook the woodwork twice.
"It was 'heat of the moment' and I didn't mean anything by it," he said. "We know all about our history here, so I was just delighted. When you score, it takes you over and, if anything is said, I apologise. I like to think I'm a nice guy on the pitch."
Neither Morrison nor the 90th-minute match-winner Graham Dorrans were anywhere near born when Albion last won at Stoke, Cyrille Regis scoring in a 3-0 victory at the Victoria Ground in 1982. But after leading his side to a draw here last season, Roy Hodgson is getting the hang of this very different challenge and was superbly served by the men he recalled, especially Jonas Olsson after injury, Dorrans following substitute duty and Marc-Antoine Fortuné from even further in the shadows.
The quality of Albion's football defied both the howling wind and their recent slide, with Dorrans' curling, low free-kick eventually seeing them home. You know there's something not quite right at the Britannia Stadium when they can't even get a rendition of "Delilah" going and, having seen Jonathan Walters' harshly awarded penalty beaten out by Ben Foster, Stoke could not hang on to the late lifeline manufactured by their substitutes Jermaine Pennant and goalscorer Cameron Jerome.
"We have to learn our lessons," Jerome admitted. "It happened to us against Wigan – we got back in the game, took the lead, then let a sloppy goal in. That concentration at the end seems to be costing us."
Stoke City: SORENSEN 4/10; WOODGATE 5; SHAWCROSS 6; HUTH 6; WILSON 6; WHELAN 5; DELAP 6; SHOTTON 6; WALTERS 6; CROUCH 5; ETHERINGTON 5
West Bromwich: FOSTER 7; SHOREY 6; OLSSON 8; McAULEY 8; TAMAS 6; THOMAS 7; MORRISON 9; MULUMBU 6; DORRANS 7; COX 6; FORTUNE 8
Scorers: Stoke Jerome 86. West Bromwich Morrison 35, Dorrans 90. Substitutes: Stoke Pennant 6 (Woodgate, 53), Jerome (Shotton, 79), Wilkinson (Delap, 88).West Bromwich Long (Fortune, 83), Tchoyi (Cox, 86), Dawson (Thomas, 90). Booked: Stoke None. West Bromwich None. Man of the match Morrison. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Stoke 51% West Bromwich 49%.
Attempts on target: Stoke 3 West Bromwich 6.
Referee A Taylor (Cheshire).
Attendance 26,865.Reuse content