Match Reports

It's Fergie time as Evan's late leveller lifts Albion

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Ferguson scores 88th-minute equaliser as Albion draw 2-2 at Leicester City.

By Bruce Talbot • 21 January 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
High-riser: Evan Ferguson heads Albion's late leveller at the King Power Stadium.

Evan Ferguson came off the bench to earn Albion a deserved point with a stunning late header at the King Power Stadium.

It looked like being another afternoon to remember on the road for more than 3,200 Albion fans when Kaoru Mitoma scored a brilliant goal in the 23rd minute when he arrowed a shot into the top corner.

But Mark Albrighton levelled before two crucial incidents early in the second half suggested it might be one of those days. Solly March slipped as he seemed certain to score then referee Thomas Bramall decided against awarding a penalty when Danny Welbeck went down in the box.

Harvey Barnes made it 2-1 but Albion persevered and with two minutes to go Ferguson guided Pervis Estupinan’s cross in off the post for his third goal in four Premier League games and lift Albion into sixth place.

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion celebrate after taking the lead at the King Power Stadium.

Roberto De Zerbi made two changes to the team which beat Liverpool last week. Jan Paul van Hecke replaced the injured Levi Colwill to make his first Premier League start while Welbeck, who scored at the King Power last season, came in for Ferguson. 

After a cagey opening Albion got into their eye-catching stride. One passing sequence which started when Estupinan won the ball by the corner flag ended 30 seconds later, via several crisp exchanges, at March in the opposite corner and his low cross was cut out by Wout Faes.

It needed a timely intervention by Leicester keeper Danny Ward to prevent van Hecke from scoring when he met Pascal Gross’ inswinging corner at the far post but Ward’s touch meant his firm header went over.

Albion were now on top though and they went in front with a stunning goal by Mitoma in the 27th minute. Albion switched play from right to left, Estupinan fed the winger and he cut inside before lashing a curling right-foot shot from the left-hand edge of the box into the top corner, with Ward helpless.

Albion had to make an immediate change when Adam Lallana went off and was replaced by Joel Veltman with Gross moving into midfield.

By Paul Hazlewood
Kaoru Mitoma scores his fourth goal of the season to put Albion in front.

But they were in control and it was a surprise when Leicester broke effectively to equalise on 39 minutes. Barnes cut in from the left and Veltman blocked his shot. The ball ran to Youri Tielemans but he was denied by Lewis Dunk's brave block but then Albion’s luck ran out as the loose ball was swept home by Albrighton, with virtually his first touch after coming on to replace the injured Dennis Praet.

Albion were furious with referee Bramall six minutes into the second half when Welbeck appeared to have had his ankle clipped by Luke Thomas in the box after Alexis Mac Allister’s flick created space in the box. There looked as if there had been contact but there was no VAR check and De Zerbi was booked for his protests in the technical area.

Albion should have scored on 57 minutes after more brilliance by Mitoma. He sliced through two challenges, chopped back and laid the ball into the path of March ten yards out, but he seemed to slip as he made contact and the ball ballooned over the bar.

Instead, five minutes later the Foxes led. An outswinging corner was flicked on by Thomas and Welbeck and fell to Barnes six yards out who had enough space to volley past Sanchez, despite van Hecke’s desperate efforts to clear.

By Paul Hazlewood
Pervis Estupinan puts Dennis Praet under pressure.

It was a poor goal from Albion’s perspective and De Zerbi reacted by bringing on Ferguson for Welbeck with 25 minutes to go.

Albion’s share of possession stood at 62% going into the last 20 minutes and it appeared as if that figure would only go one way as Leicester shuttled into a low block and invited Albion to break them down and counter-attack.

Mitoma continued to be the main threat. A cross was diverted off Ferguson’s head by Daniel Amartey before March beat the offside trap and smashed a shot which Ward did very well to block.

Veltman moved alongside Dunk for the closing stages with Tariq Lamptey introduced down the right and he was soon marauding into the box, exchanging passes with March before stumbling slightly as his shot looped onto the roof of the net.

By Paul Hazlewood
Lewis Dunk is first to congratulate Kaoru Mitoma after he put Albion in front.

Ward made a reflex save with right boot after Alexis Mac Allister weaved his way into a central position and let fly. It looked like being one of those afternoons but with two minutes to go Albion deservedly levelled. Estupinan whipped over a lovely cross from the left and Ferguson guided a powerful header past Ward and in off the inside of the right-hand post.

De Zerbi set off on one of his celebratory runs down the touchline before urging his players to re-start and perhaps find a winner. It didn’t come while at the other end the wall did its job to block James Maddison’s free kick from an inviting position deep into stoppage time.

Albion: Sanchez, Dunk, van Hecke (Lamptey 77), Gross, Estupinan, Caicedo, Mac Allister, March, Mitoma, Lallana (Veltman 29), Welbeck (Ferguson 65).

Subs: Steele, Webster, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Gilmour.

Referee: Thomas Bramall

Attendance: 32056 (3275 Albion)