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Stoke edge off bottom spot with point at Brentford

Stoke moved off the bottom of the Sky Bet Championship with their second point of the season in a goalless draw at Brentford.

The Potters might have taken all three points late on when Peter Etebo pounced on some sloppy Bees defending to go one on one with goalkeeper David Raya, only to have the ball whipped off his foot at the death.

The stalemate stretched Stoke’s winless run in the capital to 24 games and meant it was the first time they had failed to win any of their opening eight league matches since 1989.

A deadlock always looked the most likely outcome with Stoke lacking any real ambition and a nervous-looking Brentford side looking predictable in the build-up.

The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in a dire first half was when Brentford’s Christian Norgaard slammed a far-post header over the angle when it looked easier to score.

Stoke sat deep, invited the Bees on and looked comfortable, breaking the game up with a string of delaying tactics that incensed the Griffin Park crowd.

The only highlight in a game that was as dull as the sun was bright was the Bees’ Spanish winger Sergi Canos, who looked urgent and the only real goal threat.

Neither goalkeeper had a serious shot to save, Etebo going closest for the Potters on 15 minutes when Tom Ince fed him on the edge of the box but his arrowed drive was always rising.

Referee Andy Woolmer contributed to the stop-start nature of the half but sparked the biggest cheer in the 38th minute when he awarded Brentford a rare free-kick for a foul on Said Benrahma.

The Algerian winger was largely anonymous throughout in a Bees midfield that lacked creativity and cutting edge, while City were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.

Stoke, who saw a Sam Clucas free-kick force a routine save from Raya, lost Liam Lindsay with a head injury just before the break.

Canos went close in first-half injury time but his effort was charged down by a resilient and well-organised Stoke defence that frustrated the hosts throughout.

The game perked up after the break, with Canos again causing most of the problems for a dogged City rearguard, but as the half wore on Stoke grew in belief.

Danny Batth glanced a header agonisingly wide and Bruno Martins Indi saw his close-range header plucked from under the crossbar by Raya as City pressed forward intelligently.

Their best chance came when Pontus Jansson was caught napping in possession on 82 minutes by Etebo, but Raya reacted quickly to snuff out the threat.

Substitute Tyrese Campbell saw a low drive deflected just wide before Brentford almost had the final say, Canos drilling a low cross into the box which the onrushing Said Benrahma was inches away from converting.

The draw also moved Brentford, who are struggling for goals since the departure of Neal Maupay, up a place in the table.

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