ALL GOOD things came in threes for Stoke City as they claimed a third successive Barclays Premier League victory for the first time since winning promotion to the top flight with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
Two-goal Jon Walters sealed the triumph with two late strikes after Matthew Etherington had fired the Potters into a 55th minute lead from the penalty spot as they continued their remarkable record against the Baggies stretching back more than 22 years.
Rather like London buses, City's opening goal came from the penalty spot after Kenywne Jones had been brought down, and then Walters was given the chance to score his first from the spot after Dean Whitehead had been upended in the box.
The victory, coming after home triumphs over Birmingham City and Liverpool, lifted the Potters to eighth place in the Premier League table with 19 points.
Ironically, referee Chris Foy, the official who denied Walters a late equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur at the start of the season, awarded them the two penalties on this occasion, one of which led to the former Ipswich man scoring from the spot.
It was a triumphant end to a memorable week for Walters, who had made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland in their friendly against Norway.
City have now lost only once in 27 encounters with Albion over the last 22 years, and have now won seven of their last eight meetings with them too.
Pulis was boosted by the fact that he could name an unchanged side, with Begovic having recovered sufficiently from a virus to take his place in the starting line-up.
It was Albion who posed the first threat when Mulumbu teed up an opportunity for Odemwingie whose shot from the edge of the box was charged down by Huth.
There was a setback in the tenth minute when Pennant was forced to limp off with a hamstring injury he sustained in City's initial opening of the game.
The on-loan winger had latched onto a flick from Fuller and appeared to suffer the injury as he tried to whip over his cross from the right hand edge of the box.
Pennant tried to carry on, but when he featured in City's next attack, he pulled up sharply and was immediately replaced by Turkish international Tuncay.
There were few opportunities for either side in the opening stages, but Owdemwingie ambitiously tried his luck from long range but could not trouble Begovic.
With the Potters defence looking resolute, Albion were reduced to long range efforts and Mulumbu was only just off target with a well-struck drive.
City had an opportunity to catch the home side on the break when Fuller peeled off his marker and released Etherington down the left hand side, but with Jones heading for the far post, the winger failed to deliver a telling cross.
The Potters were then forced to weather a period of sustained Albion pressure in which Barnes figured prominently with his pace down the right hand side.
They had to defend desperately when Wilkinson missed one cross sent over to the far post and then Shawcross flicked another away from the incoming Morrison.
The next threat from Albion came from a free kick after Tuncay was adjudged to have fouled Thomas but Odemwingie fired his effort high over the bar.
The rather uneventful first half was summed by another attempt at goal by Odemwingie in which he took a large divot out of the pitch as the ball rolled tamely into the arms of Begovic as the game remained goalless at the half time interval.
It was not long after the break, however, when City went in front when referee Foy awarded them their first penalty of the season.
Albion were caught in possession just outside the box and when Jones tried to round Carson, he was brought down by the former England 'keeper.
Foy had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but fortunately for Carson, there were covering defenders and so the outcome was just a penalty.
Etherington stepped forward to take the kick and calmly placed it to Carson's left, and although the 'keeper guessed right it was out of his reach.
There was a further blow for Albion moments later when Morrison, who had injured his back in the first half, had to be replaced by Cox.
Albion made a further change by bringing on Tchoyi for Barnes and he was immediately in the action forcing a save out of Begovic with a rising shot.
That signalled another period of sustained pressure from the home side, but City's defence stood firm with Shawcross and Huth looking dominant.
Begovic showed good handling when under pressure when Thomas delivered another dangerous ball to the edge of the six yard box.
City made two more changes in quick succession to introduce fresh legs as Walters and Wilson were brought on to replace Etherington and Fuller.
And it paid off five minutes from the end of normal time when Whitehead bursting into the box to claim a Tuncay pass was sent flying.
Foy pointed to the spot once again, and with Etherington having been replaced, it was Walters who stepped up to beat Carson this time.
Begovic then made two brave saves to keep City's two goal cushion intact, but they wrapped up three points and a third successive win in the Premier League when Walters took advantage of a defensive mix-up to lift a close range shot into the roof of the net.