Aston Villa 1 West Brom 1 - match report

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Darren Bent responded to Paul Lambert's decision to drop him with the equalising goal as Aston Villa and West Brom played out a thrilling derby draw at Villa Park.

Shane Long had given Albion the lead six minutes after half-time with a tap in after he latched on to James Morrison's cross.

But it was Bent who grabbed the headlines when he came off the bench in the 68th minute and smashed the ball home from a corner 12 minutes later.

Albion boss Steve Clarke made two changes from their last Premier League game against Reading at The Hawthorns as Long was given the nod ahead of Romelu Lukaku, who dropped to the bench, in attack.

Defender Liam Ridgewell was ruled out with a calf injury so Macedonia international Goran Popov came in for his Albion debut at left-back.

Villa manager Lambert made four changes from the side which lost 4-1 at Southampton, the most significant of which was the decision to axe Bent and partner Gabby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke up front.

Fabian Delph came in for the injured Stephen Ireland while Joe Bennett and Marc Albrighton were preferred ahead of Eric Lichaj and Barry Bannan.

The Baggies carved open a golden opportunity to score in the sixth minute when Chris Brunt's deep cross was headed back across goal by Morrison for the unmarked Long who headed wide from close range.

Brett Holman latched on to Karim El Ahmadi's flick in the 26th minute and unleashed a sweet half-volley from all of 30 yards which Albion keeper Ben Foster tipped on to the crossbar.


Agbonlahor teed up Holman just outside the 18-yard box in the 37th minute and he drilled a low shot well wide of Foster's goal while Ciaran Clark headed wide from an Albrighton corner moments later.

Foster, who had a shaky game against Liverpool during the week, produced a brilliant save to claw away a deflected Holman effort in the 41st minute.

Benteke should have done better shortly before half-time when he picked the pocket of Gareth McAuley and cut across the box only to lift his shot over the bar.

Albion thought they had scored four minutes after the break when Yousuff Mulumbu's cross was headed past Villa keeper Brad Guzan by Long but the assistant referee had already flagged for offside.


However, Long was not to be denied in the 51st minute when Morrison broke clear down the right and delivered a low cross to the back post which left the Ireland forward with a simple tap in.

Benteke was denied by Gabriel Tamas from close range as Villa went in search of an immediate equaliser while Bennett curled a free-kick inches past the post shortly afterwards.

Romania international Tamas, who had replaced Billy Jones in the first half, almost scored a freak goal in the 64th minute when his miss-hit cross looked destined for the top-right corner but was pawed away by Guzan.

Bent replaced Benteke with 22 minutes left and the club's record signing equalised in the 80th minute with a typical poacher's goal.

Bannan's corner fell to Clark who saw his shot rebound off Tamas into the path of Bent and the £24m striker cracked a low shot past Foster.

Both sides had chances to win it in the remainder of the game as Lukaku skimmed the outside of the post with a curling effort and saw a near-post shot saved well by Guzan while Bent cured a spectacular long-range effort wide.

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