These are trying times for Bryan Robson, the man who cut his football teeth at The Hawthorns before going on to bigger and better things. He had to endure brief but noisy calls for his dismissal as the final whistle blew on another afternoon of missed chances and dropped points.
Southend United, kept in the game by the brilliance of their keeper Darryl Flahavan, threatened more than once before Matt Harrold, a 22-year-old signed from Yeovil an hour before last month's closure of the transfer window, headed in Steve Hammell's right-wing corner for the equaliser six minutes from time. It was the striker's first goal for the club - earning their first away point since promotion and ending Albion's 100 per cent home record.
"They were my number one bet for promotion before the season and that doesn't change, so this result is a great achievement," said the Southend manager, Steve Tilson.
"Success for us would be fourth from bottom but we have been playing all right away without picking up any points."
There was a fractious atmosphere after defeat at Sunderland and Preston in the last fortnight and this late squandering will do nothing to appease an impatient public.
"There's miles to go," the manager said. "The crowd reaction was frustration but I will get on with the job. I would be disappointed, though, if people didn't think we played some good football because we did. We had loads of opportunities and just didn't capitalise."
John Hartson's ankle injury threw Kevin Phillips and Nathan Ellington together from the start for the first time and there were encouraging signs of an understanding between them.
Ellington, with a powerful left-foot shot from 25-yards, brought the best of a succession of diving saves from Flahavan, who more routinely denied Zoltan Gera twice and Phillips twice.
Ellington, struggling more than most to win over Albion supporters, miscued from the game's best chance just before the interval. But the striker spectacularly made amends just past the hour mark.
He took careful aim after Darren Carter and Nigel Quashie put him in possession midway inside the opposition half, curling a magnificent right-foot shot over and beyond the keeper who was for once left motionless.
His second goal of the season may well have been followed by one for Phillips, who struck Flahavan's legs with one shot and the post with another.
Adam Barrett and Billy Payter went close with first-half headers for Southend, though, and Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Mark Gower finished wastefully from openings engineered by the power and directness of the ever dangerous Freddy Eastwood.Reuse content