Norwich City 3 West Brom 2
After the heartbreak of a late equaliser in the match against Crystal Palace, the Baggies faced another crucial match against a relegation rival as they travelled to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City in game 26, the side immediately above them in the table.
It certainly felt like a “must-win” fixture, or at least a “must-not-lose”, with both sides locked on 17 points at the bottom of the table and just one goal between them in goal difference.
One January signing, Kevin Campbell, had already had a positive impact scoring in both of his Premier League appearances since joining from Everton. Towards the end of the window, Baggies boss, Bryan Robson, has used his contacts at Old Trafford to secure the signing of young United midfielder, Kieran Richardson, on loan for the remainder of the season.
Richardson had made is Albion debut from the bench in the Palace match, replacing Martin Albrechtsen in the 72nd minute, but at Carrow Road, Richardson got the nod from the start.
Rob Earnshaw’s late goal from the bench had also earned him a recall to the starting line up in place of Geoff Horsfield and he was first to test either goalkeeper with a 25-yard shot into the arms of Canaries’ ‘keeper, Rob Green. Both sides had chances in an end-to-end first half with both Earnshaw and Greening denied by the woodwork and Huckerby missing an excellent chance for the hosts.
Five minutes before the break, Gary Doherty’s poor back pass could only be cleared by Green to Jonathan Greening who was able to put Earnshaw through on goal and he finished neatly to give the visitors the lead. They were unable to carry that into the break as Hoult flapped at a corner in the last minute of the half allowing Craig Fleming to head home the equaliser.
Two minutes into the second period, Albion were back in front and it was the man making his full debut, Kieran Richardson, who got the goal stabbing home a rebound with his knee after his initial effort had come back off the crossbar.
The Baggies were well on top but always looked shaky at the back and they paid the price again when Doherty was left unmarked to fire home a second equaliser for Norwich just after the hour mark.
Undeterred, Albion continued to pour forward and Campbell was twice denied being able to celebrate his 35th birthday with a goal by Rob Green in the Norwich net and, there was to be late heartbreak again for the Baggies.
The Baggies defence were unable to clear from a free kick with five minutes left and the ball fell to Damien Francis who powered in an unstoppable shot (pictured) from 25 yards to win all three points for the hosts.
It was a game that Albion deserved to win, but they came away with nothing and remained rooted to the bottom. Crystal Palace were beaten at home by Bolton Wanderers while Southampton earned a point the following day thanks to a 2-2 draw with Everton to leave the table after round 26 as follows.
Premier League Table – 6th February 2005
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