Earnshaw's penalty shares spoils with West Brom

Cardiff City 1 West Bromwich Albion 1
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The Independent Football

Rob Earnshaw struck his 20th goal of the season to move Cardiff into the play-off zone with a deserved draw against table-topping West Bromwich Albion. The Welsh international blasted home a 65th-minute penalty after the Baggies defender Bernt Haas upended Mark Bonner.

The Baggies looked to be on course for their sixth successive away win when the midfielder Jason Koumas opened the scoring with a 20-yard deflected shot four minutes after the restart.

Albion's hopes of scoring had seemed remote following the loss of the striker Scott Dobie just before half-time. Dobie, who was only in the side because Danny Dichio was on the bench with a slight ankle injury, had to be stretchered off after colliding with the goalkeeper Neil Alexander.

The West Brom manager, Gary Megson, already without Lee Hughes after he was charged by police with causing death by dangerous driving following an accident at the weekend, was forced to bring on the midfielder Artim Sakiri.

The West Brom goalkeeper, Russell Hoult, was given an early test as he tipped over Richard Langle's volley from a Danny Gabbidon cross. The Welsh international glanced John Robinson's resulting corner narrowly wide as City laid siege to the visitors' goal.

Earnshaw should have done better five minutes later when he pounced on a Gavin Gordon cross but mistimed his shot from 12 yards.

However, Koumas nearly gave Albion the lead against the run of play midway through the half as his mazy run and shot was grabbed at the second attempt by Alexander.

The Baggies were on course for victory once Koumas put them ahead, but the Welshman looked the most likely to take maximum points after Earnshaw's spot-kick.

From 22 yards out Langley curled a superb free-kick against the bar which bounced off the line. But Alexander pulled off the save of the night to tip Koumas' deflected 30-yard free-kick over the bar and earn his side a share of the spoils.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Croft, Vidmar, Gabbidon, Barker; Robinson (Boland 72), Langley, Bonner, Gray; Earnshaw, Gordon (Thorne 61) Substitutes not used: Margetson (gk), Campbell, Prior.

West Bromwich Albion (3-5-2): Hoult; Gregan, Gaardsoe, Gilchrist; Haas, Koumas, Johnson, O'Connor, Robinson; Hulse, Dobie (Sakiri, 45) (Dichio, 85) Substitutes not used: Murphy (gk), Chambers, Clement.

Referee: B Curson (Leicestershire).