Albion remain unbeaten in the Premier League against Leeds after an absorbing 2-2 draw at Elland Road but this was a game they should have won.
Twice in front through Alexis Mac Allister’s ninth goal of the season and Solly March’s tap-in midway through the second half, they were pegged back by Patrick Bamford’s deflected strike and Jack Harrison’s curler with 13 minutes to go.
In particular, Albion will rue the opportunities they had to put the game to bed at 2-1 when March was brilliantly denied by Illan Meslier and substitute Danny Welbeck fired over from a good position. Mac Allister had also squandered a great chance just after Bamford had levelled.
Nonetheless, Albion remain unbeaten away from home since October and have the opportunity to put pressure on the top six against Crystal Palace at the Amex on Wednesday.
With Joel Veltman for the injured Tariq Lamptey the only change, Albion settled into a familiar routine at the start, dominating possession and frustrating an anxious Elland Road crowd.
Four times they were close to scoring in the opening 30 minutes without seriously testing Meslier. Veltman had a low drive that was on target blocked then Mac Allister broke into the box and tried to tee up Pascal Gross with a back-heel but Leeds cleared.
Pervis Estupinan made a terrific burst to the by-line but Robin Koch got across to prevent Evan Ferguson from touching in his cross. Lewis Dunk headed the corner down to Gross who turned and volleyed but his effort was also blocked.
An Albion goal was coming and it arrived in the 33rd minute. Dunk’s long ball down the right found Gross. He teased Junior Firpo before lifting a cross to the far post. Kaoru Mitoma beat Luke Ayling to head it back across goal and Mac Allister nodded it firmly past Meslier from close range. It was a superb team goal.
Albion were well on top but out of nothing Bamford equalised on 41 minutes. Harrison created the chance down the left and when Bamford got the ball 20 yards out he shrugged off Moises Caicedo’s challenge and let fly, the ball taking a big deflection off Adam Webster as it looped beyond Steele into the top left-hand corner.
Having been so on top it was a shock for Albion but Mac Allister should have restored their lead before the break. Mitoma exploited wide open spaces down the left and cut inside and laid it on a plate for the Argentinian, but he side-footed wide of the right-hand post from 12 yards, beating the turf in frustration as a great chance went begging.
Steele made a good save three minutes into the second half when Bamford found Brenden Aaronson whose shot might have crept inside the post had the keeper not sprung to his right to turn it round the post. The sense was that it Leeds were only dangerous when Albion gave the ball away. When Albion failed to clear a corner in the 57th minute it dropped to Luke Ayling who lashed over from eight yards.
Elland Road had found its voice but they were stunned just past the hour when Albion regained the lead. Mitoma’s low cross should have been dealt with first by Koch, whose clearance hit Meslier, and then when the loose ball dropped to Harrison, but March was alert and nudged it over the line.
Albion had their mojo back and the chances to pull away. March was denied a second in the 72nd minute after a poor clearance by Weston McKennie, but Meslier pushed his shot round the left-hand upright. Mac Allister’s driving run and slide-rule pass nearly put Welbeck in but Meslier pushed the ball away at the striker’s feet before Welbeck fired over from 12 yards after more good work by Mac Allister.
Instead of being in control Albion surrendered the lead again in the 78th minute. Wilfried Gnonto’s quickly-taken corner found Harrison who curled the ball past Steele and into the top corner.
Both sides went hunting for a winner. Webster, who had been clutching his hamstring moments earlier, made a brilliant last-ditch tackle inside the six-yard box to deny Georginio Rutter, before Albion had one last chance in stoppage time but March’s free-kick from the right-hand corner of the box was headed away.
Albion: Steele, Veltman, Dunk, Webster (van Hecke 85), Estupinan, Gross, March, Caicedo, Mitoma, Mac Allister, Ferguson (Welbeck 67).
Subs not used: Sanchez, Colwill, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Ayari, Bounanotte.
Referee: Paul Tierney