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Stoke City 1 West Brom 1: Rondon snatches point as Pulis reaches 1000 games

Stoke City were denied their first Premier League win of the season as Salomon Rondon scored an injury-time equaliser to earn West Brom a 1-1 draw in Tony Pulis’ 1,000th game as a manager.

Joe Allen put Stoke ahead after 73 minutes and his goal, which was superbly set up by Xherdan Shaqiri, should have eased the mounting pressure on home manager Mark Hughes.

But Stoke’s vulnerability at set-pieces came back to haunt them when Rondon headed home a corner to ensure Pulis left the club he managed for 464 of his thousand matches with a share of the points.

Shaqiri’s role in an improved Stoke performance was telling – the hosts had not picked up a point in the league since the Swiss midfielder’s last appearance on the opening day of the season – and his form will be key to the chances of a continued Potters revival.

But Hughes’ men ultimately failed to capitalise on a number of chances against a West Brom side that looked toothless in attack until Rondon’s late intervention, although a point lifts Stoke off the foot of the table.

The home side carved out the better of the early attacks, led by the determined industry of Shaqiri, but the Potters’ set-piece frailty was exposed early on when Rondon flashed a header wide from a free-kick – a raised offside flag did little to settle a nervy crowd at the Bet365 Stadium.

Glen Johnson might have soothed those concerns if his chipped shot had sailed into the net after 25 minutes, but Craig Dawson made a remarkable last-ditch clearance, heading the ball off the line as he threw himself into the net.

Geoff Cameron robbed Rondon of possession late in the first half when the Venezuelan striker looked ready to break the deadlock from the middle of the penalty area, ensuring Hughes’ side reached half time with a confidence-boosting clean sheet.

Ben Foster spilled Erik Pieters’ cross, as Stoke exploded out of the blocks in the second half, but retrieved the ball from the feet of the onrushing Allen to spare his blushes.

Stoke continued to pile forward and Allen headed narrowly over from a superb Marko Arnautovic cross before Ryan Shawcross missed a far-post header from point-blank range after a corner.

Hughes sent on Peter Crouch for the 500th league appearance of his career, but the striker’s arrival almost coincided with West Brom taking the lead as Nacer Chadli arrowed a shot towards goal that league debutant Lee Grant opted to punch rather than catch and he was fortunate to clear his lines.

Shaqiri, who had probed and tested the visitors’ defence all afternoon, finally made the breakthrough when he curled a free-kick onto the head of Arnautovic, and his knock down was gratefully tucked away by the unmarked Allen.

Grant made a superb one-handed diving save from James McClean but was culpable in giving away the corner from which Rondon powered a header into the net to snatch a point as Hughes is made to further lament the loss of England goalkeeper Jack Butland to injury.

Sat 24 Sep, 2016
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