Stoke City 1, Albion 1

Once the dust settles on Albion's debut season in the Premier League, there will be 'if only' moments and matches to reflect upon.

And an almighty great, late escape in the dying stages at Stoke which could well be pinpointed as hugely significant in securing survival.

The bewildering flurry of activity in Albion's penalty area left a stunned Stoke wondering how they had not snatched an undeserved victory and the Seagulls grateful for preserving a point from a performance which warranted all three.

It ranked alongside the unfortunate defeat at Old Trafford as their best of the season away from the Amex.

To have come away with nothing would have been a travesty which would have provoked a different looking bottom half of the table and a different feel in the dressing room than one buoyed by a four-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Especially as it could have been due to the softest of penalty decisions or, even worse, a final blow of conceding yet again from a corner.

That was the fate awaiting Chris Hughton's side when referee Bobby Madley pointed to the spot for a supposed shove on substitute Jese by the outstanding Dale Stephens.

An ensuing squabble between the bitching Spaniard and fellow replacement Charlie Adam over who should take the spot-kick hinted at a disunity alien to Hughton's tight-knit group.

The Argus: They celebrated in unison (above) when Mathew Ryan dived to his right to keep out Adam's penalty. The lumbering Scot seemed sure to convert the rebound until Lewis Dunk appeared from nowhere behind him with a rescuing challenge.

It did not end there. Ryan was equal to Adam's audacious attempt to score direct from the resulting corner, driven in low to the near post. From the next corner, Mame Diouf's angled header was nodded off the line by Anthony Knockaert, introduced by Hughton just a few minutes earlier.

Albion are entitled to feel justice was done. It was never a penalty, certainly nothing to compare with the blatant one they were denied in the draw between the teams at the Amex earlier in the season, when Ryan Shawcross brought down Glenn Murray.

Fortune favoured them after that, not with Ryan's save but Dunk's last-ditch tackle on Adam and Knockaert's clearance.

Closer scrutiny suggested Dunk's challenge could have resulted in another penalty and a red card. He made more contact with Adam than the ball, which rolled behind via his hand.

Goal-line technology also revealed the ball was halfway across the line from Diouf's header when Knockaert intervened. Staying up or going down threatens to be determined by slender margins, such is the tight and congested nature of the relegation fight.

The breathless chain of events at the finish disguised a cold reality for Stoke. Only they resembled plausible relegation candidates.

Albion, ahead via another wonderful goal from Jose Izquierdo, comfortably had their measure until the richly talented Xherdan Shaqiri equalised midway through the second half. If the diminutive Swiss winger becomes sidelined, Stoke will almost certainly be done for.

The squad assembled by Hughton (below right) is less dependent on individuals than the collective, although the inconsistent Izquierdo is certainly flourishing now.

The Argus: The Colombian troubled Stoke throughout with his pace, directness and finishing power. Shots early on and deep into the second half stung the fingers of Jack Butland along with his sublime breakthrough.

First time passing exchanges with Solly March, then the deft-footed Stephens, ripped through Stoke's suspect defences. A well-placed shot beyond Butland for completion, in its own way it was a goal every bit as good, if not better, than Izquierdo's wonder strike in the previous match against West Ham.

The fixture had been billed as Stoke's biggest for a decade, but Albion were so comfortable in the first half there was nothing for the notoriously vocal home supporters to shout about.

Stoke, short of ideas and ponderous, improved for a change in formation by Paul Lambert, prompted by the half-time withdrawal of the struggling Darren Fletcher and arrival of the painfully goal-shy Saido Berahino.

The Argus: Albion remained a threat throughout with their crisp counter-attacking. The only flaw in their performance was failing to capitalise on opportunities to either extend or regain the lead. Davy Propper (above) was the guiltiest with a header over from Pascal Gross's inviting cross at 1-0.

Hughton, asked to recall a better away display, said: "Probably this and Manchester United. I thought we were excellent at United, should have got something. It was a deflected goal and the fact it was United, but I thought overall we were very good.

"I thought we were better than at Swansea and at West Ham (wins) but it's about goals and relieving that little bit of pressure on yourselves."

Amid all the late drama, Ryan's awareness in defying Adam from the corner which followed his penalty save was almost forgotten. Not by Hughton.

He said: "There are probably two people that can do that, Charlie meant it. The other one is Shelvey. I think the second one is as good a save, particularly because the emotions at that stage are all over the place."

The final verdict on a crucial quartet of games against fellow strugglers now rests on the result against a resurgent Swansea at the Amex after a likely debut in the FA Cup against Coventry for record signing Jurgen Locadia, an unused substitute in Staffordshire.

A haul of eight points by beating the Welshmen to conclude the sequence against Southampton, West Ham and Stoke will represent a big step towards safety. Six will be acceptable - depriving others ground gaining victories - five will feel wasteful.