Football: Baggies blow victory chance

West Bromwich Albion 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online
JUST AS West Bromwich were contemplating their first home league win of the season, in of all matches this fiercely-contested Midlands derby, Brian Little's men neglected their marking duties inside the penalty box and let Wolves' Adi Akinbiyi nod the ball past Alan Miller from eight yards out to equalise Andy McDermott's first-half strike.

The West Brom fans have become used to stalemates at home, this being their side's sixth draw in their last eight matches. These two sides also drew at Molineux earlier this month, yet this was a match West Brom should have won. Showing a slickness of passing and movement, epitomised by their young Italian midfielder Enzo Maresca, they out-thought and outplayed a one-dimensional Wolves side, whose main tactic was a route-one approach to their two front men, Akinbiyi and George Ndah.

West Brom deservedly took the lead after just 14 minutes, with Wolves still reorganising their defence after Ludovic Pollet was carried off with a swollen eye after a clash of heads with his team-mate, Keith Curle. Two minutes later Maresca drove a shot into the box that rebounded to McDermott, and the young Australian calmly slotted the ball past Mike Stowell from the edge of the penalty area for his first goal of the season.

That was just one small part of an extraordinary 55-minute first half that also saw a change of referees due to injury and a 19-man confrontation, sparked by a scrap between Ndah and Matt Carbon, that forced Ndah off with a hole in his shin pad and away to hospital for a precautionary X- ray.

In a slightly less fractious second half West Brom continued to take the game to their visitors, but they missed their chances. Then, eight minutes from full-time, Darren Bazeley crossed for Akinbiyi to head in.

Goals: McDermott (13) 1-0; Akinbiyi (82) 1-1.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Miller; McDermott, Carbon, Raven, Sigurdsson; Sneekes, Flynn, Maresca, Kilbane; Quinn, Hughes. Substitutes not used: Adamson (gk), Van Blerk, Burgess, Evans, Gabbidon.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Curle, Sedgley, Pollet (Robinson, 12); Muscat, Emblen, Osborn, Taylor (Sinton, 71), Bazeley; Akinbiyi, Ndah (Corica, 44). Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Simpson.

Referee: K Lynch (Kirk Hammerton) replaced by M Williams, 20.

Bookings: WBA: Flynn, Carbon, Quinn, Kilbane. Wolves: Robinson, Akinbiyi, Osborn.

Man of the match: Maresca.

Attendance: 21,097.