Albion v Stoke City
Albion News|WBA v AFC BOURNEMOUTH on 25.02.2017 in the Premier League

Given the demise of alternative football clubs in the locality, Stoke has become our de facto derby game these days and did this one ever live up to that kind of billing, a feisty, feverish, blood and guts encounter that included home heroes, pantomime villains and a fairytale ending where we all lived happily ever after. Or at least the ones who count did – us.

This was always likely to be more than just a game given the multitude of subplots all over the place, not least the return of Saido Berahino to The Hawthorns just a couple of weeks after his departure. That particular sideshow began as early as the warm up where the welcome that he received from the Throstletariat was rather less than ecstatic, no fatted calf being rolled out for the prodigal son.

The shots-in section of Stoke’s warm up became a circus as every one that went in was booed, those that found the net cheered and it was hard not to feel a little sympathy for the young man, whatever his failings. But Berahino’s a big boy now, one who can look after himself and one who will already be looking forward to these fixtures next term when he might have rather more say in the game.

That wouldn’t be hard because after he came on as a 58th minute substitute, he was barely involved, testament to a terrific defensive performance from the Albion that saw us over the line in a fixture where we proved just how adept we are at both sides of the game.

The first half was all of a swagger, some sparkling football that simply shredded a Stoke side that couldn’t get near us, the only disappointment a lack of the clinical touch with the final ball or choice but even so, it was football that was a pleasure to watch.

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The problem with getting used to the finer things in life is that if, on occasion, you are deprived of them, it stings all the more. And that’s exactly what happened against Palace for, after an amazing run of seven home wins in eight Premier League games at The Hawthorns, a run where we’ve been scoring goals and creating chances aplenty, this was one of those afternoons where we could have played until Sunday and still not scored.

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