Express & Star

West Brom 1 Millwall 1 - Report and pictures

Albion squandered a lead with 15 minutes to go in their first home game of the season in a match they will feel they should have won.

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Filip Krovinovic of West Bromwich Albion shoots at goal. (AMA)

After controlling most of the first half, the Baggies took the lead shortly before the hour mark through a piece of fortune when Alex Pearce glanced a Matt Phillips cross into his own net.

But Albion conceded an avoidable equaliser in the 75th minute from substitute Matt Smith, who roofed his shot from close range after a cross that should have been dealt with was turned back into the six yard box.

Slaven Bilic watched his team see most of the ball in his first home game of the season, and play some encouragingly pretty football thanks to the influential Filip Krovinovic.

But a lacklustre performance from £8million signing Kenenth Zohore - who squandered a golden chance in the first half - left Albion toothless up front.

Bilic kept faith in the side that beat Nottingham Forest on opening day, and none of the deadline day four featured in the squad at all.

The likes of Charlie Austin, Matheus Pereira, Grady Diangana and Chris Willock are yet to be drip-fed into the squad, and some of them could be seen against the same opposition on Tuesday night in the Carabao Cup.

Bilic will no doubt hope they get up to speed sooner rather than later to give him more options in the final third.

It was Albion's centre-backs who touched the ball more than anyone else in the first five minutes before the Baggies put the ball in the net with their first real attack of any menace.

Krovinovic curled a delightful shot inside the far corner from 25 yards after some neat build-up play, but the only problem was the flag had already been raised because Zohore - who laid the ball off to the Croatian - had strayed a yard offside.

The Baggies were controlling possession and Romaine Sawyers was the orchestrator-in-chief at the base of the midfield, although his long-range radar was not as finely tuned as his short passing.

Millwall's fans wanted a penalty when Tom Bradshaw collided with young Nathan Ferguson in the box, but there were no appeals from the players and referee David Webb played on.

Shortly after that the visitors nearly took the lead when Ben Thompson rose highest at the back post, powering a header into the ground but just wide of Sam Johnstone's far post.

Kyle Edwards wriggled free of two men in the middle of the pitch before beating another, but he tried one trick too many and was tackled in the box.

That sparked Albion into life, and on the half-hour mark Matt Phillips created a glorious chance for Zohore after robbing Jake Cooper of possession on the edge of his box.

The winger drew everyone to him and squared it to Albion's no.9 in acres of space eight yards out, but his shot was straight at Bartosz Bialkowski, who kicked it clear.

Edwards then swung a devilish cross in the box that skimmed both Zohore's head and Phillips's boot as the Baggies tried to turn the screw.

The second half started in similar fashion, with Albion seeing plenty of the ball, but lacking penetration up front.

Krovinovic and Sawyers both urged Zohore to show for the ball more, and Albion's no.9 was brought off before the hour mark for Hal Robson-Kanu after struggling on his home debut.

Just before that substitute, the Baggies broke the deadlock with a simple goal that had an element of good fortunte about it.

After the lively Krovinovic won a free-kick, Phillips swung a delivery into the danger area which Alex Pearce directed into his own net under pressure from Kyle Bartley.

Bialkowski nearly clawed it away, but he could only palm it into the roof of his net.

Going behind forced Millwall to come out of their shell, and they finally started to ask questions of Albion's backline.

Matt Smith gave the Baggies a warning with a header that bounced wide of the post after getting the wrong side of Bartley, but moments later the substitute had equalised, and it was a poor goal to concede.

When Millwall lofted a cross towards the back post, Sam Johnstone should have dealt with it, but he stayed on his line and the visitors scrambled the ball back into the six yard box.

Smith was on hand to roof his shot from close range and draw the sides level.

Bilic sent for Oliver Burke and Chris Brunt, bringing them on for Livermore and Phillips respectively.

But the Baggies struggled to carve out any real openings in the final minutes of the match, and were reduced to long shots from Edwards and Krovinovic, both of which were easily saved by Bialkowski.

Four points from the first two games is an adequate return, but there's no escaping the fact all three of Albion's goals so far have had an element of fortune about them.

Bilic will be looking for a spark from his four deadline day signings as quickly as possible.

Key Moments

07 GOAL DISALLOWED - Krovinovic curls a shot into the far corner from 25 yards but the flag is already raised for offside on Zohore.

18 Ben Thompson rises highest at the back post but his header bounces wide.

32 Phillips robs Cooper of possession before setting up Zohore with a glorious chance, but his shot from eight yards out is saved by Bialkowski.

48 Ajayi nearly sweeps home a corner but his effort is straight down Bialkowski's throat.

57 GOAL ALBION - Pearce glances a Phillips free-kick into his own net under pressure from Bartley.

58 Zohore is brought off for Robson-Kanu after a frustrating home debut.

75 GOAL MILLWALL - Smith roofs his shot after a cross to the back post is played back into the six yard box.

Albion man of the match

Filip Krovinovic - Looked lively throughout and showed composure in tight spaces.


Albion (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; Ferguson, Bartley, Ajayi, Gibbs; Livermore (c) (Burke 80), Sawyers; Phillips (Brunt 85), Krovinovic, Edwards; Zohore (Robson-Kanu 58).

Unused subs: Bond, O'Shea, Townsend, Harper.

Millwall (4-4-1-1): Bialkowski, M Wallace (Smith 64), Cooper, Williams, J Wallace, Thompson, Bradshaw (Bodvarsson 74), Romeo (Ferguson 53), Pearce (c), Leonard, Mahoney.

Unused subs: Steele, Hutchinson, O'Brien, Skalak.

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 24,305 (1,567 away)