Match Reports

Dominant Albion have to settle for point

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Derby finishes 1-1 after late own goal earns hosts deserved reward.

By Bruce Talbot • 14 January 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Leandro Trossard celebrates in front of the Albion supporters after the late equaliser.

A late own goal by Palace defender Joachim Andersen ensured the derby honours were shared for the second time this season.

At Selhurst Park in September Neal Maupay had rescued Albion with a stoppage-time equaliser. On this occasion at a vibrant Amex, Maupay’s driven cross was diverted past Jack Butland with three minutes to go. It was the least Albion deserved.

Palace appeared to have pulled off a smash and grab raid similar to last season thanks to Conor Gallagher’s goal in the second half.

By then Albion should have been in control. Pascal Gross had a first-half penalty saved by Butland who frustrated the hosts by denying Leandro Trossard and Jakub Moder with world-class saves.

Maupay had a goal disallowed and Moder hit the bar before Gallagher struck in the 69th minute with Palace’s first shot on target.

The crowd stuck with their team throughout but it looked like being one of those nights when Butland was finally beaten.

Graham Potter made two changes to the team that won at Everton with Yves Bissouma, who is on African Cup of Nations duty with Mali, and the injured Enock Mwepu replaced in midfield by Gross and Moder.

Albion, buoyed by a noisy home crowd, made an excellent start and should have been in front in the tenth minute. Joel Ward’s defensive header was intercepted by Marc Cucurella whose pass set Trossard away. His shot was well struck but Butland made the first of several crucial saves, making himself big to block it with his right arm.

By Paul Hazlewood
Leo Trossard was superbly denied by Jack Butland early on.

Moder and Joel Veltman combined in the 20th minute to free Neal Maupay in the box. His cross was blocked and when Joel Veltman won the ball back the Frenchman again found himself in space but volleyed tamely wide of the far post.

Albion regularly found space between the lines to keep the pressure on Palace with Moder and Alexis Mac Allister pulling the strings. But they squandered a great chance in the 36th minute when they were awarded a penalty after the VAR Peter Bankes spotted a foul by Will Hughes on Veltman in the box.

Referee Rob Jones awarded a penalty after visiting the pitch-side monitor but Butland dived to his left to save from Gross, whose strike was too close to the keeper.

To compound Albion’s frustrations, Maupay had a goal disallowed moments later when he bundled the ball home when Butland appeared not to gather Adam Webster’s header cleanly, but his celebrations were cut short when Jones again changed his decision after another trip to the pitch-side monitor, ruling that Butland had both hands on the ball when Maupay stabbed it into the net.

By Paul Hazlewood
Jakub Moder went close to opening the scoring, but Jack Butland denied the midfielder.

It had been a breathless first half and Albion went close again two minutes after the break. Gross swept the ball into the six-yard box from the by-line and Moder met it first time at the near post but although his right-foot shot beat Butland it struck the crossbar. Moments later Butland came to Palace’s rescue again Mac Allister’s pass released Moder but there was more anguish for the Pole as Butland narrowed the angle and diverted his shot over the bar.

Albion had to reshuffle in the 55th minute when Lallana came off and Tariq Lamptey replaced him with Gross moving into central midfield but it didn’t affect their tempo.

Hughes was booked for a late tackle on Mac Allister before Webster rose well to meet the Argentinian’s corner but glanced it wide and Trossard’s on-target volley was blocked by Marc Guehi.

All that was missing from Albion’s performance was a goal. Instead, the Amex was stunned when Palace broke the deadlock in the 69th minute. Jeffrey Schlupp did well to keep the ball alive on the line and when it came back into the box Gallagher volleyed into the bottom corner.

By Paul Hazlewood
Neal Maupay's smart play saw Palace defender Joachim Andersen put the ball beyond his own goalkeeper.

Talk about a sucker punch. Graham Potter responded by bringing on Danny Welbeck and Solly March but Albion appeared to have run out of steam when the equaliser arrived three minutes from time. Maupay drilled the ball across the face of goal from the left and Andersen diverted it past Butland as he tried to clear.

Albion nearly won it in stoppage time when the subs combined, March picking out Welbeck’s run but his header flew inches over the bar. Albion had to settle for a point but the standing ovation the players got at the end told you all you needed to know about the quality of their performance.

Albion: Sanchez, Veltman (Welbeck 72), Burn, Webster, Cucurella, Lallana (Lamptey 55), Moder, Mac Allister, Gross (March 72), Trossard, Maupay.

Subs not used: Scherpen, Alzate, Caicedo, Roberts, Leonard, Ferguson.

Referee: Robert Jones

Attendance: 30675