Report: Albion 2 Millwall 2Albion staged a spectacular second-half comeback to earn a share of the spoils against fellow play-off contenders Millwall.
Kenny Jackett’s side were heading for all three points after former Seagulls loanee Chris Wood had netted a fine brace, but a 61st minute strike from substitute Kazenga LuaLua and a late David Lopez penalty secured a well-deserved draw.
Millwall came into the match having lost just once in 15 games, but they needed to re-shuffle with striker Andy Keogh suffering an injury in the warm-up.
A surprise on the team-sheet for Albion was the inclusion of 17-year-old development squad player Solly March on the bench.
Gus Poyet also sprung a surprise of his own on the pitch; with Inigo Calderon and Bruno injured, Adam El-Abd started on the right side of a defensive three.
The visitors had the best of the opening exchanges with Josh Wright’s fierce drive blocked by El-Abd, while Lewis Dunk was also equal to a drive from Shane Lowry.
It therefore came as little surprise when Millwall broke the deadlock; Adam Smith crossing low from the left with Wood netting from six yards with a deft touch past Tomasz Kuszczak.
The goal woke Albion from their slumber and they came close to equalising on 31 minutes when Gordon Greer headed a David Lopez free-kick against the crossbar but the rebound was cleared to safety.
Albion were bossing possession without creating any clear-cut chances and with 38 minutes on the clock, Poyet reacted with a tactical substitution - Lewis Dunk being replaced by Kazenga LuaLua.
With the side reverting to a familiar 4-3-3 formation, LuaLua made an immediate impact, with a direct run into the box. His low cross was then met by Mackail-Smith, who failed to get a clean connection and in any case, the linesman had flagged for offside.
Albion upped the tempo after the break and again hit the woodwork when a delightful curling 25-yard free-kick from Lopez came back off David Forde’s left-hand post.
Yet the Albion faithful were stunned into silence just moments later when Wood let fly with a stunning left-foot effort from the edge of the box which flew into the top corner of Kuszczak’s net.
Wood looked like he had come back to haunt his former club but the Lions’ two-goal advantage lasted just four minutes as the impressive LuaLua cut inside to fire home a spectacular effort of his own on 61 minutes – his second goal in three games.
With his confidence up, LuaLua again let fly from distance but this time his effort sailed over Forde’s bar.
Poyet brought on Ashley Barnes in place of Andrew Crofts, while Will Hoskins replaced Liam Bridcutt as Albion went in search of the equaliser.
Albion thought it had arrived when a Lopez ball into the box was headed back across the face of goal by Dean Hammond. Adam El-Abd got a touch as the ball headed goalwards – but TV replays showed it hadn’t crossed the line before being hacked to safety.
Poyet’s side refused to accept defeat and with just three minutes remaining, Mackail-Smith was brought down in the box by Jack Smith and Lopez smashed home the resulting penalty.