- Joe Allen netted his first goal for the Club in the 74th minute
- Salomon Rondon glances home an undeserved last-gasp leveller
- Potters' wait for first league win of the season prolonged
STOKE CITY’S wait for a first Premier League victory of the season was agonisingly prolonged on Saturday afternoon as Salomon Rondon’s stoppage time header claimed the Baggies an undeserved point.
Joe Allen’s first goal for the Potters had looked to be enough to secure a much needed victory for the home side, but the Welsh international’s delight was turned into despair when Albion forward Rondon glanced home a dramatic late leveller.
Mark Hughes will be left wondering what his side have to do to get off the mark this term, with his side producing without doubt their most polished 90 minute showing of the campaign thus far.
In truth, there was only ever really one side likely to break the deadlock, with the visitors intent on sitting back, soaking up the pressure and on the odd occasion looking to spring an attack on the counter.
Allen, who excelled alongside the impressive Glenn Whelan and Geoff Cameron in central midfield, was as industrious as ever and went close to breaking his deadlock for his new side on several occasions prior to his 74th minute goal.
Shaqiri, making his first appearance since the opening day draw with Middlesbrough, added balance to the City side, and he was a constant nuisance to the Albion rear-guard with his trickery and inventiveness on the ball.
In fact, it was the Swiss star who went close to opening the afternoon’s scoring early in the first-half with a swinging free-kick that flew into the side netting, whilst his enticing ball into the mix was narrowly missed by Ryan Shawcross soon after.
The skipper had a couple of better opportunities, with a looping header failing to really trouble Ben Foster, whilst he nodded another close range effort wide of the target when he will have felt aggrieved not to have made the ‘keeper work.
Hughes’ troops were at it from the off, and their high pressing never wavered as the hassled and harried Albion into several mistakes, but once more that bit of luck needed was evasive as referee Martin Atkinson twice waved away very real penalty appeals from Erik Pieters.
The Dutch international was denied a clear-cut spot kick in the first period when he was clearly tripped from behind, whilst he was further aggrieved when the official failed to spot an almost identical challenge after the interval.
Stoke continued in the ascendency and finally reaped their rewards when Shaqiri’s stunning ball into the box was nodded down by Marko Arnautovic and into the path of Allen, who stabbed the ball into the ground before watching it dip over Foster and nestle in the bottom corner of the net.
A couple of missed half-opportunities to put the game looked like coming back to haunt the side when Jonny Evans met a crisp ball into the penalty area, but Lee Grant, making his first start in the Premier League, flew across goal and finger-tipped his effort wide.
With the fourth official signalling four minutes of additional time, a slight mix-up between Grant and the impressive Bruno Martins Indi gave Pulis’ side the set-piece they so desperately as they rallied to find an unlikely equaliser.
The Potters had defended admirably against the obvious Albion threat throughout the afternoon, but sadly it proved to be one too ball into the box too many, as Jonathan Leko’s centre was heartbreakingly glanced into the far corner by Rondon.