Middlesbrough v Albion
Albion News|WBA v STOKE CITY on 04.02.2017. Premier League

We’ve been here before – notably at Hull and Sunderland – but the conundrum is, was this a point won or two spilled.

A little bit of both is the answer because history tells the tale that invariably, however good we have been, a trip to Teesside is generally fruitless for the Throstles.

And while there was bitterness over a controversial penalty award that ultimately cost us dear, the fact that Albion have become so adept at hoovering up points on our travels in games that we would have probably lost in past years is a pretty sweet feeling to have. Because while Middlesbrough may be at the wrong end of the table, they still give precious little away – only five Premier League sides have conceded fewer goals – and on a foul night that had the players squelching through a monsoon that made conditions underfoot especially treacherous, it would have been easy to let the game slip away.

We’ve all seen away sides – us and others - decide that they don’t fancy it on a horrible night, but this side doesn’t chuck in the towel, even though we could have done with somebody throwing a few on at times. Instead, these players properly honoured the immense efforts of 741 travelling members of the Throstletariat, dug in, played well and ended up the thickness of a post, twice, away from victory. Not a bad night all told then.

Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be greedy and ask after more of course. In the opening quarter of an hour, it didn’t seem so much of a question of would Albion win as by how many. We assumed total control from the first whistle and earned an early dividend from it just six minutes in when we seized the lead.

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Things get taken for granted very quickly in football, such that very often, credit doesn’t get dished out when it’s due.

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this was a 90 minutes that did have all the hallmarks of a classic fa cup tie but unfortunately those hallmarks tend to include the big club losing out to the smaller one after an impassioned rearguard action, helped by a healthy dose of (mis) fortune. on that score, this was the kind of game that has given the fa cup its huge reputation both in this country and around the world, but to be honest, we’d have much preferred a quiet, uneventful afternoon where, in the finish, the form book was upheld.

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‘We were pleased that the supporters at least had something to take home with them after following us in such good numbers in terrible conditions’

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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.

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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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