Half-time: Stoke City 0, West Brom 0
Stoke City 0, West Brom 0.
Stoke must have begun the afternoon wondering about the reception from their fans after recent results and frustrations, but there could be no complaints about the backing from both sets of fans.
Ryan Shotton's early scything of Jerome Thomas – right on the edge of his own box - certainly suggested the Stoke players were up for this one.
Cameron Jerome was over with an early header at one end, while James Morrison's low drive forced a goalkeeping spill at the other, as both sides warmed to the positive atmosphere.
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Jon Walters was suffering some early knocks for the cause and the returning Matthew Etherington was looking lively on the left as Stoke pressed without joy for the first 15 minutes.
Steven Nzonzi's liveliness in the loose was infectious, but still chances were AWOL at either end.
Ben Foster's first save came on 24 minutes when he stretched to grab Etherington's in-swinging free-kick beneath his cross bar.
Mike Dean's decision-making was doing nothing to endear him to a vocal home crowd as both Nzonzi and Walters were denied free-kicks in promising areas of the pitch.
Stoke fans were building up a head of steam as Etherington's left-wing corner was headed over by Crouch when stooping to try and make a better contact.
And then Walters saw a long-range effort deflect off Jonas Olsson and dip just wide of the far stick with Foster scrambling.
City remained the sharper in open exchanges and a succession of corners kept their fans firmly by their side.
Still no goal, nor any threatening effort on goal, but at least Stoke remained the hungrier-looking of the two sides.
Stoke: Begovic, Shotton, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Jerome, Whelan, Nzonzi, Etherington, Walters, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Owen, Adam, Whitehead, Kightly, Wilkinson.
Albion: Foster,Jones, Ridgewell, Olsson, McAuley, Thomas, Yacob, Morrison, Mulumbu, Brunt, Lukaku. Subs: Myhill, Popov, Rosenberg, Long, Odemwingie, Tamas, Fortune.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Cards: Stoke – Shotton (foul,43). Albion – Brunt (unsporting behaviour,34), Morrison (foul,45).