West Brom signalled there is still life in their bid for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship, as they staged a late fightback to hold Huddersfield to a 2-2 draw.
A goal in each half from Danny Ward had put Carlos Corberan’s automatic promotion-chasing Terriers in control of the game, but a controversially-awarded penalty allowed Karlan Grant to halve the deficit against his former employers.
Andy Carroll then glanced in a cross to level within 60 seconds and there was even time for Grant to hit the crossbar in the final minute of normal time.
As a result, Huddersfield leapfrog Bournemouth back into second place – after extending their unbeaten run to 17 matches – with West Brom now up to 12th and seven points off the play-off spots ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.
How West Brom’s promotion hopes flickered back to life
Having started the evening eight points outside the top six after seven defeats in their last 10 games, picking up three points was almost imperative for Steve Bruce’s West Brom side if they wanted to stay within touching distance of the play-off places they had been a part of for so long earlier in the season.
There was a real bite to their play as proceedings got under way, with Alex Mowatt stinging the palms of Huddersfield goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, who did well to push the drive away from danger, having seen it late after it travelled through a crowd of players. The fans’ vocal response only served to spur the Baggies on.
But soon they found themselves behind, as Ward gratefully lapped up the chance presented to him by an error from Sam Johnstone. The ‘keeper collected a pass from Kyle Bartley, but displayed little urgency to pump the ball forward, smashing it straight at the onrushing frontman, with the ball crossing the line and trickling into the unguarded net.
Manful defending from the visitors kept chances to a minimum throughout the remainder of the half and into the second, too. Ward sidefooted over on the hour mark, with Lewis O’Brien’s fierce drive beaten away by Johnstone soon after.
With 16 minutes to play, Ward did get a second when he followed up after Johnstone had pushed O’Brien’s shot into his path, but although it seemed as if that would seal the points for the Terriers, the game was, in fact, far from over.
Referee Matthew Donohue awarded a penalty to the hosts after Mowatt had bravely put his head in the way of Sorba Thomas’ clearance, despite the Wales international appearing to touch the ball first, with Grant tucking the resulting spot-kick into the bottom left corner.
With their very next attack, West Brom restored parity when Carroll got on the end of Semi Ajayi’s cross and glanced a header home, before Grant beat the offside trap and looped in a shot which crashed off the crossbar to safety.
Carroll then played a huge part in securing the valuable point for the Baggies in the closing seconds, as he stood in position to bravely head a powerful shot from substitute Tino Anjorin off the line.
Man of the match – Danny Ward
With two goals to his name at The Hawthorns, Danny Ward took his tally to 13 goals in a season for the first time since he started his senior career at Bolton in 2009.
Both were as a result of relentless pressing and closing down, with the first coming after he forced a glaring error from Sam Johnstone and the second when he arrived on the scene immediately to mop up where the stopper could not. In this form, the 31-year-old will be a key asset for the Terriers in their promotion push – although it is not as if he was not already.
What the managers said…
West Brom’s Steve Bruce: “There were a couple of minutes where we might have nicked it! I didn’t think there was much in it. We gifted them a goal and we are in a difficult place at the moment, so you could see the confidence drain away a little bit with the run we’ve unfortunately been on.
“Hopefully we’ve shown a spirit and something about them to get themselves back in. Andy gave us something a bit different, which was good to see. All in all, it was typical Championship game, where – for me – there was nothing in it, but it could have gone either way.”
Huddersfield’s Carlos Corberan: “It’s clear the penalty changed the dynamic of the game. I haven’t watched the action back, but from where I was watching, it’s an action we need to avoid.
“The games are 90 or 95 minutes; for me, we were excellent for 80 minutes and even good in the extra time of the game, but the game changed in five minutes.”
West Brom are next in action at 8pm on Tuesday when they host Fulham at The Hawthorns, while Huddersfield travel to The Den to take on Millwall at 7.45pm on Wednesday.
Both matches will be available to watch live across Sky Sports – click here to find out how.
Source : Sky Sports