West Bromwich 1 Southampton 1: Phillips strike denies Saints

Click to follow
The Independent Online

One of football's rarer phenomena was heard at the end of this game, namely a cheer by West Bromwich Albion fans in honour of the win by Wolverhampton Wanders, their fiercest rivals.

The reason was purely selfish, as with this point and their Black Country neighbours' win at Preston, the Baggies climbed into second place in the Championship.

Do not expect the celebrations to become a regular event. It was not a point that West Brom deserved, and that was certainly the view of George Burley, the Southampton manager. Having seen his side take the lead through a fine move rounded off by Kenwyne Jones, they were then pegged back by Kevin Phillips' strike on the cusp of half-time. Either side of those goals were two decisions that Burley felt the referee got wrong, both times in favour of the hosts.

The Scot was convinced that Curtis Davies, as the last defender, should have been sent off for a foul on Jones some minutes before his goal. Then, with the match poised at 1-1, the West Brom goalkeeper Dean Kiely ran out of his penalty area and appeared to commit a deliberate handball, though the referee signalled the ball struck his chest.

Not that Burley's men appeared to need any advantage against a side they dominated for large parts of the game. With 18 minutes gone, they had the lead when John Viafara slipped the ball to Grzegorz Rasiak. The Pole reached the byline and Jones had a simple task to beat Kiely from eight yards out. By contrast, West Brom's work had been almost fruitless when the half-time whistle loomed. Then a Paul McShane cross was headed high into the air, Jason Koumas scuffed his shot and Phillips was on hand, six yards out, to do what he has done for years.