Reach earns a point but Baggies lose ground on top six

Bristol City 2 West Brom 2

Adam Reach rescued a point at Ashton Gate with a stoppage time goal, his first for the Baggies, but it was a match that Steve Bruce’s side really needed to win and the result leaves them still in 12th place some seven points adrift of the top six.

The first half performance from Albion was way below the levels that they produced on Tuesday night to defeat the league leaders and, as Steve Bruce said in his post-match press conference, that inconsistency needs to stop if the Baggies are to have any hope of finishing in the play-off places.

Both goals were poor from a defensive point of view, and the first one completely changed the flow of the game. Albion had looked to be in control in the early stages of the game without creating any real opportunities, but the City goal completely changed the momentum of the match and the hosts could have easily added to their lead before the break.

In the second half, Albion were much improved and very much in control of the game, albeit chances remained at a premium. They got the break their improved display deserved when Robins’ ‘keeper, Dan Bentley, launched himself at Kyle Bartley and referee, Leigh Doughty, had no hesitation in awarding Albion their third penalty in four games. Karlan Grant converted it confidently to take his tally to fourteen for the season and the visitors were in control and looking for the winner.

The Baggies dominated the remainder of the game but there was a lack of incisiveness in the final third. With neither Carrol nor Dike on the bench, there weren’t too many options for Bruce to change it, but I felt that he should have brought Diangana on much earlier.

When he did come on, with just seven minutes left, it was for Conor Townsend which meant a defensive re-organisation was required. For me, that was missing as the hosts took the lead against the run of play. Doughty awarded City a very debateable free kick on the half way line and, when Cundy’s free kick was nodded towards Weimann at the back post, Livermore was sleeping and the former Villa man thumped the ball home.

With just five minutes left, it looked as if Albion’s play-off hopes were all but dashed, but Bruce then threw Reach on, withdrawing another defender in Bartley, and the former Wednesday man repaid him by poking home the winner deep into stoppage time finishing off a neat move involving Robinson and Livermore.

It was the least that Albion deserved, but they were their own worst enemies in conceding two preventable goals. The late equaliser at least shows they are still fighting, and have the determination to carry on until the end.

The Baggies now have a fortnight’s break until their next game, and the hope is that some of the injured players will be back. Andy Carroll missed out due a slight knock while Darryl Dike suffered a set back in his recovery and won’t now be playing for the U23s on Monday. Matt Phillips is also back in training so there is a chance that all three could be available for the trip to St Andrew’s.

The point keeps hopes alive, just, but the think Albion need to win seven of their remaining eight games – five of them are at the Hawthorns but it will be a very difficult task and there can’t be any more below par performances.

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