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Birmingham City 1 West Brom 1 - Report and pictures

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published: | Last Updated:

Albion escaped St Andrew's with a point after gifting Birmingham City a series of chances the hosts couldn't put away.

Jota gave Blues a deserved lead 27 minutes in, poking the ball home from a narrow angle after a Lukas Jutkiewicz knock-down.

The Spanish winger, who gave Albion a torrid time all game, had a penalty saved three minutes later before Matt Phillips equalised in the 39th minute after a Kristian Pedersen mistake.

Somehow, the score remained 1-1 after that, but had Garry Monk's men had their shooting boots on, it would have been a one-sided victory for Blues.

Albion played themselves into trouble at the back on countless occasions with some dreadful passing, but the hosts were unable to capitalise.

And apart from a late rally when the Baggies hit the crossbar, the visitors were distinctly second-best.

Darren Moore made one change to the line-up that beat Stoke, bringing in Conor Townsend at left wing-back for his first league start in Albion colours to replace Kieran Gibbs, who was ill in the week and could only make the bench.

It was a chance for Townsend to shine, but he was up against City's record signing Jota on that flank, and the former Brentford man caused both him and Kyle Bartley plenty of problems.

Albion tried to control possession in the early stages, but their back three were struggling to pass the ball out, while Blues were threatening to nick possession high up.

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Ten minutes in Ahmed Hegazi had to put in an important clearing header from a corner. Five minutes later, Jota did the same in the other box with Townsend lurking.

The Spanish winger was in the midst of all the action and, not long after, Jota's dinked free-kick looked dangerous until Craig Dawson headed it behind.

Blues may be winless this season, but Garry Monk's unchanged side were proving why he kept faith in them.

It wasn't until the midway point of the first half that Albion finally provided a goal threat, when Dwight Gayle nearly turned in Phillips's low cross at the near post.

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The winger then whistled a long-range effort past Lee Camp's post, but it was Birmingham who were the team in the ascendancy.

And after 27 minutes, the hosts made their pressure count.

Johnstone should have collected Gary Gardner's deep cross to the back post, but he stayed on his line and Lukas Jutkiewicz climbed higher than Craig Dawson nodded the ball back across goal.

Jota came steaming in at the back post and poked the ball in from a narrow angle to give Monk's men a deserved lead.

That sparked a madcap three minutes. Blues had a penalty shout turned down after Bartley challenged Che Adams in the box, but that was followed immediately by a spot-kick that was given when the centre-back needlessly handled a cross.

Jota stepped up, but his shot was well saved by Johnstone's springing leap to his left.

Albion's keeper has now faced three penalties this season and none of them have gone in. He's saved two of them.

The Baggies had been given a let-off, but Blues scented blood, and they kept trying to steal the ball off the jittery backline.

But then, 12 minutes after falling behind, it was a mistake up the other end that allowed the Baggies to draw level.

Phillips had been Albion's best player in the first half, and he was rewarded for some persistent and direct running after trying to outrace Kristian Pedersen down the flank.

It looked like the winger had been crowded out, but the full-back cleared the ball straight into his shins and Phillips pounced on the chance, guiding the ball past Camp.

Blues should have regained the lead almost immediately.

Jota hadn't let the penalty miss affect him, because he swaggered past Bartley with ease before standing the ball up to Jutkiewicz at the far post again.

This time his downwards header found Che Adams in acres of space, eight yards out, but the striker shot over the bar to the dismay and disbelief of the home fans.

The second half started like the first ended, and it wasn't long until Johnstone was called into action again, diving down low to push Adams's effort around the post.

Albion looked most dangerous when they got Barnes on the ball, and the no.10 tested Camp with an effort after a neat one-two on the edge of the box.

But most of the time the visitors were playing themselves into trouble at the back, with both Dawson and Hegazi guilty of giving the ball away far too cheaply in dangerous areas.

On the hour mark, Jacques Magomah nearly converted a diving header after Adams was given too much time to pull the ball back.

Shortly afterwards Jota fired over after a simple counter-attack caught the Baggies cold.

Albion needed to change something, but it wasn't until gone 70 minutes that Moore made his first substitute, bringing Hal Robson-Kanu on for Jay Rodriguez.

Gareth Barry followed soon after, replacing Chris Brunt at the base of midfield.

And that seemed to reinvogorate the Baggies, who finally started to creat chances in the last 10 minutes.

Firstly, Gayle's cross nearly found Barnes, and a few minutes later the no.10 cracked the bar from a narrow angle, sparking a period of pinball in the Blues box that nearly gave the Baggies an undeserved winner.

KEY MOMENTS

27 GOAL BLUES - Jota stabs home from a narrow angle after Jutkiewicz's knock-down.

30 PENALTY BLUES - Johnstone saves Jota's spot-kick after Bartley's handball.

39 GOAL ALBION - Phillips scores a super solo goal with the help of Pedersen's mistake.

POSITION IN THE TABLE

5th, with 11 points from 7 games.

ALBION MAN OF THE MATCH

Matt Phillips - Scored the goal and with Barnes provided the most consistent threat.

TEAMS

Albion (3-4-1-2): Johnstone; Dawson, Hegazi, Bartley; Phillips, Brunt (c) (Barry 75), Livermore, Townsend; Barnes; Gayle, Rodriguez (Robson-Kanu 72).

Unused Subs: Myhill, Adarabioyo, Gibbs, Edwards, Burke.

Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Colin, Morrison (c), Dean, Pedersen; Jota, Gardner G, Kieftenbeld, Maghoma; Adams (Bogle 71), Jutkiewicz (Solomon-Otabor 85).

Unused subs: Trueman, Roberts, Harding, Lakin, Majoney.

Referee: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 22,715 (2,984 Albion)

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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