Stoke boss Michael O’Neill is delighted with how his team is developing following Friday night’s narrow 1-0 Championship victory over leaders West Brom.
Jacob Brown wasted a glorious chance to put the Potters ahead when he hit the post after nine minutes and Darnell Furlong’s comical own goal was chalked off for a foul five minutes before the break.
Mario Vrancic hit the crossbar with a free-kick at the start of the second half before England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone saved a Sam Surridge penalty – but Nick Powell finally got the breakthrough when he chipped the goalkeeper with 11 minutes to go.
“The most important thing for me is where we are as a team and that we keep developing as a team,” he said.
“We have shown a lot of positives as a team, how we play and the quality of our play.
“It was a great performance. We knew it would be tough and the key was to try and not get dragged into a war.
“We came under pressure but when we got our build-up play right, we created some good chances.
“We wish we had taken one earlier than we did but we created more than enough chances to take the game.
“As a team, how we played and how we defended was excellent.
“You look at past games when chances have gone begging and it’s about winning games like this and winning tight matches.
“Hopefully we will gain more belief from this win – that is what this league is about.
“The belief was there from everyone right through the team and it was a great three points.”
On Powell, he added: “The system we are playing suits Nick Powell. He has been very receptive and very disciplined in how he plays.
“When he plays like that there is a responsibility as a team to get the ball to him in those areas and he will always cause problems.”
Albion boss Valerien Ismael admitted his side had been beaten by the better team.
“I think that tonight it was not good enough to pretend to get more,” he said. “We saw a lot of mistakes from our side and I think it is always a sign of tiredness.
“We didn’t match the performance we put in against Cardiff. We lost too many balls in the pocket.
“Stoke were the better team tonight and they deserved to win.
“We did not create enough chances and did not keep the ball in the danger areas. We hesitated a lot in many areas and that is the reason why the performance was average.
“We need to give 100 percent all the time and tonight is a lesson that we can learn from. We always need to stay on our level, even when the performance is not good like tonight.
“When it is like this you don’t make mistakes and then we take a point that could be a good point.
“There were too many mistakes and the performance was not good enough. We need to recover and prepare for the next game against Birmingham.
“We tried to play but we lost the ball and it’s as simple as that. After that you need to run after it and Stoke was the best team we have played so far.
“You see the quality in the Championship and we need to raise the quality.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe