TOWN'S second string may have slumped to a seventh Pontin's Holidays League defeat, but watching Town chief Peter Jackson could take heart after a lively display from pacy trialist Scott Brown.
The Everton Academy product, who was joined by fellow trialist, 18-year-old centre-back Andrew Hodges from Tottenham, produced a spirited, attacking display down the right side of midfield in front of Town's senior coaching staff and came close to getting on the scoresheet on several occasions.
But John Dungworth's side went behind after just three minutes, when Stoke striker Martin Patterson's cross evaded Phil Senior's outstretched arm, and fell kindly for Jermaine Palmer to sidefoot in.
Town hit back with chances falling to Brown and the irrepressible Adnan Ahmed, but both were narrowly high and wide.
On 27 minutes Ahmed floated a delightful ball over the top of left-back Clint Hill and straight into the path of Scott but, after taking aim, he opted for power and blasted over.
Stoke increased their lead on 59 minutes when Rob Edwards fouled Palmer in the box and the burly centre-forward picked himself up to convert the penalty.
But Town's revival began on 66 minutes, when a deep cross from the right was fed back into the box at the far post by Jon Newby, John McAliskey flicked it goalwards and the chance was leapt upon by Paul Scott (later to limp off with a slight calf strain on 78 minutes) to steer the ball over the line.
Resurgent Town were denied an equaliser a minute later only by goalkeeper Ben Foster's fingertips, when he stretched every sinew to deny Ahmed's dipping attempt from the left.
Eventually, despite Town demonstrating tidy, attacking football in patches, it was a scrappy chance which brought the leveller, Dwayne Mattis screwing the ball past two defenders on the line from a tight angle.
Town keeper Senior showed safe handling to deny Brian Wilson a goal from long range on 79 minutes.
But Stoke sealed their victory with only four minutes left when skipper Andy Wilkinson made a break down the right.
Town's defence totally failed to deal with his cross, showing no conviction in the box, and the ball spun out to Martin Patterson to drive it into the back of the net.
Town Res - Senior, Thompson, Edwards, Scott (Collins, 78mins), Hughes (McCombe, 58mins), Hodges, Brown, Mattis, McAliskey, Newby, Ahmed (Young, 83mins). Subs not used: Giles, Hardy.
Stoke Res - Foster, Wilson, Hill, Williams, Keogh, Wilkinson, Smith, Denny, Palmer, Patterson, Fisher (Musgrove, 63mins). Subs not used: Jones, Sanna, Graves, Swift.
Referee: J F Tattan.