The goal came in a first half that the Baggies dominated and they could easily have led by more at the break. Mark Hughes’ side were much improved in the second half but ultimately failed to seriously threaten the West Brom goal.
Hughes will rue the fact injuries forced him into making each of his substitutions with Erik Pieters, Victor Moses and Jonathan Walters all succumbing to injury as his side’s three-match winning streak came to an end.
However, Tony Pulis??? side were far superior, especially in the first half as they pressed forward from the off and comfortably repelled Stoke on their rare forays forward.
Saido Berahino twice tested Begovic in the first quarter of an hour from the edge of the box with a wayward drive from Victor Moses the best the visitors could conjure up.
It was little surprise then when the Baggies took the lead. Gardner had time to get his head up and pick out Ideye with his cross from the right. The Nigerian shrugged off the challenge of Phil Bardsley and stooped to head low into the goalkeeper’s right-hand corner.
The striker felt he should have had a second soon after as Begovic failed to collect a simple through ball. Ideye capitalised on the goalkeeper’s error to prod the ball home from close range but was correctly adjudged to be offside when the pass was played.
Albion had another chance to double their lead shortly before the Bosnian???s slip up as Dawson played a wonderful through ball down the right to Berahino who burst into the box and fired narrowly wide of the far post.
It was a tight angle and the youngster???s decision to shoot did not go down well with a couple of his team-mates expecting a cut back.
Likely with the words of Hughes still ringing in their ears, Stoke started far quicker in the second period and a high ball into the box left Ben Foster wanting. The Albion ‘keeper was beaten the ball by Crouch before Walters fired over.
That proved to be Foster’s last action and having received treatment for an injury, the England man was replaced by Boaz Myhill.
Shortly afterwards, Stoke engineered their best effort of the game. Wilson crossed from the left and Walters’ flick header looped goalwards and required Myhill to tip it over the crossbar.
West Brom responded with a spell of pressure of their own and Craig Dawson had a decent shout for a penalty turned down by referee Michael Oliver after turning Geoff Cameron in the box. Cameron got nothing of the ball but the fact that Dawson was highly unlikely to reach the ball before it went out of play surely worked in his favour.
A Peter Crouch header straight at Myhill was the best Stoke could muster until stoppage time when the former England front man got on to a bouncing ball over the top.
Myhill rushed from his goal and brought down Crouch just outside the box. With the striker moving away from goal and a number of defenders covering Myhill escaped with just a yellow card. He will no doubt consider his decision justified, especially after seeing Marko Arnautovic put the resulting free-kick straight into the wall.
The win should put an end to any lingering relegation worries Baggies’ fans may have had while Stoke remain in the top half of table.