West Bromwich Albion 1 - Stoke City 1

Date: Sunday 17th December 2023 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
(4-2-3-1) Palmer 5.7, Furlong 5.5, Bartley 5.7, Kipré 7.1, Townsend 6.4, Yokuslu 6.3, Mowatt 5.8 (Molumby, 87 4.8), Diangana 4.6 (Fellows, 72 5.9), Wallace 7.7, Sarmiento 4.9 (Ávila Gordón, 77 5.3), Thomas-Asante 5.9
Unused subs: Griffiths, Ajayi, Chalobah, Pieters, Reach, Taylor
Manager: Carlos Corberán  5.7
Scorers: Thomas-Asante (35)
Referee: Andrew Kitchen 5.7
Attendance: 23,298   Home Fans 6.0   Away Fans 5.2
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 15

Kev Buckley:

Depending on your viewpoint, Albion either rescued a point from, or simply failed to create enough to pick up all three against, a lowly Stoke who had not won in seven and were scoring at an average of less than a goal a game.

The starting XI was probably the best available, although again, it'll depend on your viewpoint as to how the attacking midfield three - Sarmiento, Wallace and Grady - lined up behind BTA, makes you feel: glad or sad? Personally, I'm getting fed up with it.

Once again, we had a lot of possession from the off but were unable to create anything of note with it until the 8th minute when a cross after a run down the right from Diangana fell to Sarmiento at the far post and he blazed what might have been his first touch in the game miles over.

Three minutes later and Stoke would come out down our left after Wallace failed to get a shot off. Their winger - who seemed happy to run at people all through the game, as opposed to ours who, more often than not ran, stopped and passed it back - went far enough past Townsend to be able to launch a cross-cum-shot that flew over an out-of-position Palmer, hit the underside of his bar, and then hit the far post, ending up in the back of the net.

It wouldn't be until the 26th minute that Sarmiento, the right-footer being deployed on the left would cut in and fire off a right-footed shot that the Stoke keeper finger-tipped away to register Albion's first shot on target.

Some eight minutes later though we had our second and third after Furlong outmuscled the defender trying to shepherd out the ball on the bye-line and pulled it back for Yokulsu, and although his shot was blocked, the ball fell to BTA at the top of the box and he absolutely thumped it home.

Five minutes after that a sweeping move saw BTA put clear but he didn't have the pace to capitalise and get a shot off, and so, in holding it up, the move petered out.

Wallace appeared to have replaced Sarmiento as the right-footed player on the left wing after the break, although a nice move down that side about ten into the second-half saw him deliver a poor final ball that found no-one in a striped shirt: note that Stoke were not playing in red-and-white stripes but had changed to an all-blue kit so as not clash with our navy-blue and white stripes: go figure.

As 65 passed, Wallace would be in down the left again but his shot from the corner of the penalty box was blocked.

Stoke then made a double substitution before Corberan's habitual replacement of his left-footed right-winger, Diangana, with a right-footed one, Fellows, was made, although when a long ball saw Fellows away through the middle, he didn't quite have the pace to avoid an excellent challenge in the box denying him a shot.

After Palmer had to come out quickly to snuff out a through ball, Corberan took off his nominal left-winger, Sarmiento, and replaced him with his nominal right-back cover, Pipa.

I just don't get this stubborn refusal to give Diangana a run on the left. Corberan could have pulled Sarmiento for Fellows and moved Diangana over there, but no, the best left-footed player in the squad never gets a chance to show what he could do there, and for me, Albion are the worse for it. It was bad enough when Grant was keeping Diangana out of the side altogether, but now that he's starting, there's no real excuse not to give him a chance over there.

Having said that, Stoke's keeper would be called upon to make two saves from attempts coming down that side; the first from BTA's back-heeled goal-bound flick, from a Wallace cross, and the second, after Pipa also got a goal-bound shot off.

Molumby would also get a brief run out after replacing Mowatt with four to go, although he didn't affect the game in any way and I feel that we're not getting enough out of the "holding two", despite all the possession that goes through them.

For me then, the amount of on-target efforts - three in the first half and four in the second - that Albion, a top-six side at home created against an away side three points off the drop zone, and not even a side who really came looking for a draw, even after they had gone ahead with their only on-target effort, suggests that it's not quite right but, sadly, I expect to see more of the same, and that includes the odd bit of sloppiness at the back - unpunished today - when trying to play the keep-ball in ever tighter areas.

Brendan Clegg:

A frustrating one that. Definitely two points dropped through some very good goalkeeping on their part and a bit of lacking ambition and urgency on our side.

Kev Buckley’s report is spot on and I’ve spent a couple of years sharing his frustration about playing Diangana on the left, so just a few other observations.

That was the meekest and least competitive Stoke team I can remember. First half they were lazy, didn’t track runners, didn’t close space. We really should’ve done a lot better with the possession and situations we had but we were too safe, came backwards too often or didn’t shoot early enough.

Their goal was a fluke, ours a really good BTA finish.

Second half they were far more aggressive and were the better team for 30 minutes before our subs swung it back our way. We probably should’ve won’t it but there were a couple of great saves to deny us.

I think for me the most annoying thing was the respect we showed them… instead of just playing high tempo footy and attacking them, absolutely everything had to go through our playing patterns and it ended up feeling over-coached again.

But then you look at the bench and very little was there to change it. Our injury curse has made a tough job tougher.

  • Palmer - 6 Not sure he was at fault for goal
  • Furlong - 7 covered lots of grass and key for goal
  • Barts - 7 strong and solid with 2 or 3 immense passes
  • Kipre - 7 So reliable
  • Townsend - 7 They targeted him but solid job
  • Mowatt - 6 Best option and moved it well
  • Okay - 7 powered through and used it ell
  • Jed - 7 Lively, everywhere, really gave us a lift
  • Grady - 5 Not enough end product or risk
  • Sarmiento - 5 would quite like to see a shit or something, still time to sharpen
  • BTA - 6 great goal but otherwise struggled to impact
  • Fellows - 6 had a go and takes risks
  • Pipa - thought he he gave it away too cheaply