Nick Powell scored the only goal of the game as Stoke City defeated previously undefeated champions leader West Bromwich Albion.
It seemed to be one of those evenings in the Potteries when Michael O’Neill’s men outsmarted the visitors but couldn’t get through.
Jacob Brown hit the post in the first half, Mario Vrancic hit the crossbar in the second, before Sam Johnstone made two great saves from Sam Surridge in quick succession, the second of them from the penalty spot after the Albion goalkeeper knocked the ball down . rush hour.
But at 79 minutes, the Potters finally created some real magic for their deserved winner one night when Albion boss Valerien Ismael admitted Stoke was the best side they’ve met so far this season.
Tommy Smith clung to a mis-hit pass from Conor Townsend to drive a broken ball into the channel on the right – and Powell ran on to lift a perfectly weighted lob over the stranded Johnstone.
Stoke climbed to third after their best performance of the season in front of their biggest crowd of the season, 22,703, although that was bloated by the rowdy 2,886 traveling Albion fans who made it such an occasion.
The Potters ended up winning in large part thanks to another fantastic performance from Powell, who, at the age of 27, now appears to be a real class act compared to the hopeful teenager who risked Manchester United £3million more than nine years ago.
It was Powell who created Stoke’s first big chance when he put Brown on the base, only to see his teammate keeper Johnstone outsmart but also find the base of the post. Seconds later, fit-again Joe Allen fizzled a right foot follow-up just wide.
And while Albion’s Callum Robinson had a powerful left foot volley on goalkeeper Adam Davies, he was also involved in an incident on the other side.
Stoke thought they had scored when Darnell Furlong, trying to reduce the danger to his keeper, shot a low diving header into the corner. But referee Tim Robinson had already whistled for an alleged foul on Robinson, who appeared to have gone down very easily and received a loud, sustained hoot.
Summer signing Vrancic was next to come close after the break when he drove a left foot free kick over Johnstone, which bounced off the crossbar.
From Powell’s low cross in the second half, the Albion keeper then denied Surridge from close range – before an even better chance came.
Semi Ajayi nearly got a shot off the line and in the melee that followed, Surridge was knocked down by Johnstone.
Albion’s keeper ducked to the right to save Surridge’s badly taken penalty with his feet. But it was Stoke who had the last laugh when Powell’s winner stamped their promotional credentials and took them one point from first place to the international break.
Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill told BBC Radio Stoke:
“It’s a happy dressing room and we deserved the win, but we may have made it harder than necessary with all the missed opportunities.
“I felt like we handled everything they threw at us. I didn’t feel like we were going to lose a goal. But Nick Powell is resurfacing with that bit of quality.”
“And it was also a great assist from Tommy Smith. He enjoys playing at fullback and really gives us something offensively.”
“We have to make sure the fans come back. Our home form was excellent and sometimes the place was great. We won five and drew one – and the fans are a big part of that.”
West Brom boss Valerien Ismael told BBC Radio WM:
“I don’t know if it was fatigue, but we just weren’t good enough.
Stoke are the best team we’ve played against so far and they deserved to win.
“We made too many mistakes and we have to learn from them.
“Alex Mowatt has a foot injury that we need to check.”
Player of the match
Selection number25player namePowell
Selection number8player nameVrancia
Selection number36player namesouttar
Selection number9player namefletcher
Selection number16player nameWilmot
Selection number4player nameAll
Selection number11player namedoughty
Selection number5player nameChester
Selection number14player nameTymon
Selection number2player nameSmith
Selection number15player nameThompson
Selection number18player namebrown
Selection number1player namedavies
Selection number22player nameSurridge
West Bromwich Albion
Selection number1player nameJohnstone
Selection number7player nameRobinson
Selection number6player nameajayic
Selection number3player nameTownsend
Selection number8player nameLivermore
Selection number27player namemowatt
Selection number5player nameBartley
Selection number2player namefurlong
Selection number10player namePhilips
Selection number20player nameRange
Selection number11player nameDiangana
Selection number18player nameScholarship
Selection number17player nameHugill
Selection number14player nameMolumby
1daviesBooked at 75 minutes
25Powellis replaced bydoughtyBee 86′minutes
8Vranciais replaced byfletcherBee 76′minutes
18brownis replaced bySurridgeBee 57′minutesBooked at 90 minutes
1JohnstoneBooked at 90 minutes
8LivermoreBooked at 51 minutes
27mowattis replaced byMolumbyBee 80′minutes
17Hugillis replaced byPhilipsBee 55′minutes
18Scholarshipis replaced byDianganaBee 57′minutes
Match ends, Stoke City 1, West Bromwich Albion 0.
Second Half ends, Stoke City 1, West Bromwich Albion 0.
Sam Surridge (Stoke City) has been shown a yellow card.
Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion) has been shown the yellow card.
Sam Surridge (Stoke City).
Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the backcourt.
Missed attempt. Jayson Molumby (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from the center of the box is too high following a corner.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Produced by James Chester.
Foul by Steven Fletcher (Stoke City).
Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the backcourt.
Foul by Sam Surridge (Stoke City).
Conor Townsend (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the backcourt.
Switch, Stoke City. Alfie Doughty replaces Nick Powell due to injury.
Foul by James Chester (Stoke City).
Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Caused by Tommy Smith.
Attempt blocked. Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Grady Diangana.
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Jayson Molumby replaces Alex Mowatt.
Target! Stoke City 1, West Bromwich Albion 0. Nick Powell (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Tommy Smith.