West Brom 2 Nottingham Forest 2
Storm Dennis may have been raging, but the football was the most dramatic spectacle at the Hawthorns as a Matty Cash scored a wonderful late equaliser for Nottingham Forest to grab a point they probably didn’t deserve.
The visiting supporters will undoubtedly argue with that assessment but that statistics are clearly in Albion’s favour with 18 shots against 8, 9 on target against just 1 for the visitors and 61% possession. Forest ‘keeper, Brice Samba, was forced into a number of excellent saves in the second half as the hosts looked to kill the game off.
The Baggies can also claim that they had a perfectly good goal disallowed in the last minute of stoppage time when Kyle Bartley was adjudged to be active when lying across the goal line as Callum Robinson’s shot hit him having already crossed the line. It was, perhaps, a tough decision for the officials but it was not the first one they got wrong.
It was a bad day for Keith Stroud but, having seen a number of poor performances over the last season and a half from one of the Championship’s most experienced referees, I wasn’t entirely surprised. Forest fans may feel more aggrieved given that there were a number of key decisions that went against them. Livermore was fortunate to escape further punishment for his challenge on Figueiredo, and there was perhaps a foul on Sammy Ameobi in the build up to Albion’s second goal.
There was also the penalty shout for a hand ball by Kyle Bartley in the second half – you’ve seen them given, but I think it would have been harsh given that Bartley’s arm was in a natural position and he had little time to react.
However, as well as the disallowed goal, the hosts will feel that Stroud failed to clamp down early enough on a series of apparently orchestrated robust challenges on Pereira and Krovinović. The scorer of Forest’s late equaliser, Matty Cash, should probably have received a second yellow card for his challenge on the Croatian just before half time.
It has come to be expected as most teams seem to systematically attempt to stop Albion’s flair players, particularly Pereira, through foul means and referees are consistently failing to protect them. Stroud did a better job of that after the break, but his all round performance was very poor.
Two of the goals were excellent. Callum Robinson scored his first in an Albion shirt to give the hosts a deserved lead while Matty Cash’s strike for Forest’s second equaliser was superb, albeit it was the visitors’ only shot on target in the entire game.
In between were two very similar own goals. Both were from crosses into the “corridor of uncertainty” and both would have been tapped in by a striker had the defender not intervened.
Albion will be disappointed not to have won the game, but the performance level did not drop from what we have seen in recent weeks. Bilić went with the same starting line up for the third game in succession and his players responded with another strong display. Grosicki and Phillips were once again introduced from the bench with Rekeem Harper also getting a few minutes on the field at the end.
Robinson was perhaps the standout performer, with Livermore and Ajayi also worthy of a mention. Pereira and Krovinović both played well in between getting kicked, with the Brazilian the architect of Albion’s opener having nicked the ball off Sow before playing Robinson in.
If the Baggies maintain these performance levels, promotion will almost certainly be secured and they can look forward to a tough trip to Ashton Gate next weekend full of confidence.
Lead photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images