STOKE CITY extended their unbeaten run to four matches but were left to rue missed opportunities after producing a dominant performance against Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium.
Jon Walters and Kenwyne Jones failed to take advantage of good opportunities to forge a breakthrough, while Joe Hart made a stunning second half save from his own teammate Jack Rodwell to earn the visitors a point they barely deserved.
The Potters starved Manuel Pellegrini’s side of a single goal-scoring opportunity but they were unable to cap another expansive display with the match winning goal they so richly deserved.
Boss Mark Hughes resisted the temptation to throw deadline day signings Marko Arnautovic and Stephen Ireland straight into limelight as he named an unchanged Stoke City starting line-up
Arnautovic and Ireland were among the substitutes along with Jermaine Pennant, who had captured all the headlines with his super sub performance against West Ham a fortnight earlier.
Pennant’s late strike in East London had earned Stoke their third successive victory and that was reflected in the positive manner they went about their business against the 2011/12 Premier League Champions.
Hughes’ men should have drawn first blood but Walters failed to capitalise on a gilt-edged opportunity in the 14th minute of a frenetic contest.
Charlie Adam sent over a pin-point cross from the right which found Walters unmarked six yards out but the Republic of Ireland international was unable to direct his glancing header on target.
Alvaro Negredo wasted the time and space he was given on the edge of the Potters’ area as he sent a curling shot high over Asmir Begovic’s crossbar.
Stoke had another opportunity make a breakthrough just before the half hour mark as a fortunate ricochet sent Steven Nzonzi clear. However, the Frenchman was unable to take advantage - or even test Joe Hart.
The England No.1 came to the visitors’ rescue moments later after a mistake by Matija Nastasic had given Kenwyne Jones a clear sight of goal as he kept out the Trinidad & Tobago international’s powerful shot with his legs.
Adam tested Hart with a long-range shot as the first half ended with Stoke very much on top of a shaky looking City and it was a similar tale at the start of the second as the Potters created another opportunity to strike the first blow of the contest.
Skipper Ryan Shawcross’ exquisitely weighted pass sent Geoff Cameron racing clear down the right and when he sent over a cross, Walters was unable to crown an outstanding move in the best possible style as he diverted the ball wide.
Jones also failed to find the target, heading over Hart’s bar after peeling away from his marker to meet Adam’s teasing cross from the left as Stoke continued to dominate their expensively-assembled opponents.
City boss Pellegrini responded by making his first change of the afternoon in the 63rd minute, introducing Sergio Aguero at the expense of Stevan Jovetic.
City survived a scare when makeshift central defender Javier Garcia handed possession to Walters on the edge of the visitors’ area but Pablo Zabaleta spared his teammates blushes with a well-timed tackle just as Matthew Etherington was about to pull the trigger on a shot.
The home crowd got their sight of new boys Arnautovic and Ireland in the 70th minute when Hughes made a double substitution; Austrian international Arnautovic replacing Adam and ex-City star Ireland.
Arnautovic made an immediate impact as Hart produced a stunning save to keep the scoreline goalless.
The former Werder Bremen man played a one-two with Erik Pieters before sending over a cross from the left that Rodwell diverted towards his own goal. Hart somehow managed to block before Jones fired over from the rebound.
Jones limped out of the action shortly afterwards to be replaced by Peter Crouch and Stoke were given a scare when Robert Huth went down with a head injury with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
The German received lengthy treatment from the Club’s medical team before picking himself up to see out a game that ended with Arnautovic narrowly missing the target with an audacious chip from just outside the area.