When you’re down near the bottom even at this early stage of the season, you take anything you can get. That however will prove little solace to Mark Hughes and his Stoke City side, who after Joe Allen’s 73rd minute goal looked on course for a precious first win of the season, only to see two points cruelly snatched away in stoppage time by Salomon Rondon’s headed equaliser.
It was a much better and more assured performance from the Potters, who welcomed back Xherdan Shaqiri from injury and have finally managed to stop their barren run of defeats, looking much more solid defensively here against former manager Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion side.
The fixtures between these two Midlands rivals always transpire as low scoring affairs, won in the finer details. So it seemed again, as it took a Jonny Evans mistake at the back for the hosts to capitalise, and new signing Joe Allen; who has been excellent for the Potters since arriving from Liverpool, got what they thought would be the decisive goal, poking home a deflected shot beyond Ben Foster to send home supporters into pandemonium.
With the game edging into injury time, a critical first win of the season looked in their grasp, only for Rondon to rise and head an in-swinging corner beyond Lee Grant and thwart all of Stoke’s hard work. It was an agonising outcome for Mark Hughes and his side, who would have moved level on points with Burnley who occupy the spot just above the drop zone, but as it is they remain in the bottom three but move up one place to 19th after Sunderland let a two goal lead slip to lose at home to Crystal Palace.
It is positive signs for the hosts who were much improved from their recent showings, which made the blow of conceding another late goal all the greater. But what did we learn from the stalemate at the Bet365 Stadium? Read on over the next few pages to find out…