Super sub Alexis Mac Allister scored his first Premier League goal as ten-man Albion came from behind to draw 1-1 with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Palace had led through Wilfried Zaha's 19th-minute penalty until the last minute of normal time when Mac Allister thundered a right-foot shot past Vicente Guaita.
Lewis Dunk was shown a straight red for a challenge on Gary Cahill in stoppage time but the ten men held on for a point which was the least they deserved after dominating long spells.
Graham Potter made two changes with recalls for Dan Burn and Adam Lallana as Steven Alzate and Aaron Connolly dropped to the bench. Danny Welbeck was not signed in time to feature.
The pattern for the afternoon was established early on with Albion dominating until Palace made their controversial breakthrough.
Solly March and Leandro Trossard combined in the eighth minute before March picked out Tariq Lamptey on the right for a low shot which was on target but blocked. Four minutes later March was involved again when his cross was cleared to Yves Bissouma but the midfielder’s powerful strike found the side netting.
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Ben White went even closer when he intercepted Tyrick Mitchell’s pass and let fly from the edge of the box, but his effort flew just wide of the left-hand post.
All that Albion lacked at that stage was a goal to reward their dominance. Instead they fell behind to a soft penalty, awarded for a push by Lamptey on former Chelsea colleague Michy Batshuayi following a cross by Andros Townsend. Despite vehement protests referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot and Zaha swept the penalty into the bottom-right corner.
It knocked Albion out of their stride for ten minutes or so, but they created two more good chances before the interval. Neal Maupay fired straight at Guaita before the French striker volleyed over after March had cushioned Lamptey’s cross into his path.
Albion had enjoyed 62% possession and had six shots to Palace’s one in the first half and there was little change in the second half as they continued to take the game to their hosts.
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They threatened again four minutes after the break when Adam Lallana cleverly dummied Trossard’s cross to Maupay, who turned his defender but didn’t get enough power on his shot to test Guaita.
Batshuyai had a goal disallowed for offside before Maupay had another good opportunity when he made space inside the box but saw his left-foot shot blocked for a corner.
Palace defender Cheikhou Kouyate got in a timely interception to block Maupay’s goal-bound shot after quick passing inside Palace’s box set up the chance and with 20 minutes to go Palace were relying on counter attacks.
But without the ball Palace were disciplined and kept a solid defensive shape. Potter brought on Mac Allister, Connolly and Pascal Gross in the closing stages but it looked as if there would be no way through.
There was one late twist though and justice for Albion when Maupay's pass deflected off Connolly and the ball broke to Mac Allister on the edge of the box and his powerful shot flew past Guaita with the aid of a slight deflection to make it 1-1.
During seven minutes of stoppage time Dunk was shown a straight red for a mis-timed challenge on Cahill at an Albion corner which means a three-match ban for the skipper.
It’s all White…
There was a lot of speculation before kick-off about how Albion would line-up but Graham Potter’s decision to play Ben White in midfield was not that big a surprise. White was regularly used there, particularly towards the end of last season during his loan spell with Leeds and looked composed in the role. He broke up play and got forward too, going close in the first half with a shot after intercepting a stray pass.
Experience v Youth…
The return to the side of Dan Burn and Adam Lallana pushed Albion’s average age to just under 25 years. Palace have the oldest average starting XI this season at 29 years and 89 days.
Ryan, Webster, Dunk, Burn (Gross 82); Lamptey, White, Bissouma, March, Lallana (Mac Allister 77), Trossard (Connolly 77), Maupay. Subs: Steele, Bernardo, Veltman, Alzate.
Albion are back at the Amex for the first time in nearly a month next Monday when they entertain West Bromwich Albion, kick off 5.30pm.