West Brom 2 Crystal Palace 2
After Baggies boss Bryan Robson recorded his first league victory against Manchester City, we had to wait nine days for Albion’s next league game. On the Saturday in between, Tottenham Hotspur had been the visitors to the Hawthorns for a fourth round RA Cup tie which finished 1-1 after a Jermain Defoe penalty equalised Robert Earnshaw’s opener.
On Tuesday 1st February 2005, Crystal Palace were the opponents for what was a massive game at the bottom of the Premier League. The visitors were in 17th place, five points ahead of bottom-placed Albion at that start of what was to become a very close battle for survival.
In the reverse fixture, Palace had beaten Albion 3-0, a result that saw Gary Megson sacked, but Iain Dowie’s team had won just three league games since then, albeit they had beaten Spurs 3-0 in their previous league game.
Things started to go Albion’s way early on when Geoff Horsfield was cynically hacked down by Palace’s Uruguayan central defender, Gonzalo Sorondo, in the 12th minute. Referee, Dermot Gallagher, decided that it was a clear goalscoring opportunity, and showed Sorondo the red card.
The hosts failed to capitalise on their one man advantage with Kevin Campbell heading the clearest opportunity of the first half over the bar.
Two minutes into the second half, a long clearance from Palace ‘keeper, Gábor Király, was dropping about 20 yards from goal onto the head of Albion defender, Darren Purse. He decided to duck out of the header and allow the ball through to ‘keeper Russell Hoult, but he misjudged it and Eagles’ striker, Andy Johnson, did not, following the ball through and nod the ball over Hoult into the net.
It was a massive blow for Albion but they battled hard and almost equalised when Campbell’s effort hit the post and rebounded into the arms of a grateful Király. With ten minutes to go, Palace were camped in their own box and the Baggies finally made the breakthrough. A dangerous cross from Zoltán Gera came off the boot of Fitz Hall and looked to be heading goalwards before Király got a hand to it – he could only push it upwards and it dropped at the far post for Kevin Campbell to poke it home. 1-1.
In the last minute of normal time, Riccardo Scimeca’s ball found its way to Campbell, who played the ball through for substitute Earnshaw (pictured) who finished delightfully, chipping the ball over the advancing ‘keeper and Albion had “won the game” according to the Sky commentator.
We should have known better – 1st February was a Tuesday and anyone who reads this site regularly will know that Albion have never won a Premier League game on a Tuesday, albeit this was only their third attempt.
Deep into stoppage time, Palace won a free kick on the halfway line. Borrowdale lifted the ball into a packed penalty area and, after a few seconds of pinball, Aki Riihilati poked the ball and it looped over Hoult dropped into the net. There were suggestions that a free kick should have been given for Fitz Hall diving onto Gera as he tried to clear the ball off the line with an overhead kick, but the goal stood and the game finished all square.
Southampton and Norwich City would both suffer defeats the following day to Birmingham City and Everton respectively, so after round 25, the table stood as follows:
Premier League Table – 3rd February 2005
If you cannot see the table, click here.