It is widely accepted that quality does not guarantee success and West Bromwich Albion certainly proved that at The Hawthorns on Saturday. A mix of poor finishing and two simple defensive mistakes saw Crewe leave with a well deserved point from this lacklustre encounter.
Despite being an obvious cut above Dario Gradi's men, the First Division leaders had looked destined to slip to a surprise defeat before Sean Gregan levelled with time ticking away. Albion have now gone five home games without a win and their lead has now been cut to just two points. After escaping with a point their manager, Gary Megson, admitted his concerns at their form at The Hawthorns.
"We're top of the League at this, the halfway stage, but not winning at home is starting to cause us problems," Megson admitted. "It's making us and the crowd anxious. We had ample opportunity to put that right but in the end we were thankful to a great deal of heart to get us back in it."
That heart came courtesy of Albion's versatile captain. Gregan had started the game as part of a back three, before moving into midfield when Megson saw the game slipping away from him. Then he turned striker to poke home Paul Robinson's left-wing cross from inside the penalty area.
Crewe, however, deserve credit for their own spirit and resolve. When the defender Bernt Haas put Albion ahead early on, after Clayton Ince had fumbled Jason Koumas's free-kick, it looked to be a case of "how many?".
The home side were well in control, but after a tactical change due to an injury to the 16-year-old Billy Jones, Kenny Lunt sent over a corner for Steve Jones to stab home and suddenly there was a game going on.
Things got worse for Megson when Steve Jones then turned provider to cross for Dean Ashton and his clever cushioned header was converted by David Wright late into first-half stoppage time.
Dario Gradi praised his players for their part in the tactical switch which allowed Wright to strike home. "The players came to me and suggested we move David Wright into midfield and I was impressed with that. They made the decision," the Crewe manager said.
"Playing the way we did gave us a chance and we didn't want to sit back and put ourselves under pressure. The result back at Palace [a 3-1 win] took the pressure off us a bit and we could come here and enjoy ourselves more."
Goals: Haas (7) 1-0; S Jones (18) 1-1; Wright (45) 1-2; Gregan (2-2) 72.
West Bromwich Albion (5-3-2): Hoult; Haas, Gregan, Volmer, Gaardsoe, Robinson; Johnson, Koumas, O'Connor (Sakiri, 51); Hulse, Dobie (Hughes, 62). Substitutes not used: Murphy (gk), Clement, J Chambers.
Crewe Alexandra (4-3-3): Ince; Wright, Foster, McCready, Tonkin; Lunt, Cochrane, B Jones (Moses, 43); Ashton, S Jones, Varney. Substitutes not used: Bankole (gk), Robinson, Smart, Higden.
Referee: G Hegley (Bishop's Stortford).
Bookings: West Bromwich Albion: Hulse, Haas. Crewe: Foster.
Man of the match: Gregan.
Attendance: 22,825.Reuse content