Substitute Adam Reach volleyed a stoppage-time equaliser to earn West Brom a point from a 2-2 Championship draw at Bristol City.
The home side took a 29th-minute lead when Andreas Weimann crossed low to the far post from the right and Nahki Wells produced an unerring finish with his left foot from eight yards. But Albion levelled after 68 minutes when Kyle Bartley went down when challenging for a header with defender Rob Atkinson and goalkeeper Dan Bentley, Karlan Grant slotting home the resulting penalty.
Weimann thumped an unstoppable 85th-minute volley into the roof of the net for his 18th goal of the season after Atkinson headed on a Robbie Cundy free-kick. But Albion were not finished and Reach, who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, capped a neat passing move with a close-range left-footed finish.
City boss Nigel Pearson made one change from the 2-0 midweek defeat at Barnsley, bringing in Cameron Pring for the injured Alex Scott, while Albion were unchanged from their victory over Fulham. Teenage midfielder Josh Owers, son of former Sunderland and City player Gary Owers, was named on the bench by Pearson for the first time.
The hosts suffered an early injury blow when striker Antoine Semenyo was forced off and replaced by Wells. A gusty wind made life difficult for both teams and the only semblance of a chance before substitute Wells’ opener was a 14th-minute header from Albion’s Grant that floated harmlessly wide.
After taking the lead, City stepped up their game and looked the more dangerous side, although Semi Ajayi went close for Albion with a volley from inside the box. Atkinson’s 37th-minute header brought a diving stop from Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and a Matty James free-kick was deflected just wide of the near post as Pearson’s men attacked with menace.
From the resulting corner, Chris Martin volleyed over at the far post and City had only the one goal to show for their superiority at the break. By the hour mark, Albion had still not forced a save from Bentley as City were well-served by their three-man back-line of Cundy, Timm Klose and Atkinson.
Darnell Furlong headed over from a right-wing corner and Cundy produced a brilliant diving block as pressure from the visitors grew. Then came the penalty and Albion looked favourites to go on and claim all three points.
But City responded well and had a strong penalty claim for handball rejected before Martin fired wide moments later. Weimann’s goal was deserved on the overall play but Pearson’s team have been vulnerable to late goals all season and failed to see out the game yet again as Reach struck.
What the managers said
Nigel Pearson : “It was the same old story. The fans must be as sick of hearing me talk about late goals as they are of seeing them conceded. We had the ball 10 yards from their corner flag in the dying moments and then made a mess of a throw-in.
“You can’t make decisions for players and some poor ones have cost us again. I have an honest group of players but we can’t go on making the same mistakes. We have a problem with consistency. After being so poor at Barnsley in midweek, we have looked solid in this game and our goalkeeper has not had much to do.
“I have no issue with the penalty, having seen it again, although I felt we should have had one ourselves in the second half. All credit to Andi Weimann, who is a manager’s delight. When we have a player on 18 goals and are where we are in the league, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what the problems are.
“Today we have been pretty good at the back, yet still conceded twice. There is a lot of work to be done on our defending as a team.”
Albion boss Steve Bruce : “We are reaching the stage when we have to win games to achieve our objective, so I am disappointed. Our first-half display was nowhere near good enough. The second half was much better but one thing we have to sort out is that we are up one minute and down the next.
“After beating Fulham, I expected better. Conditions were difficult, with a swirling wind and a pitch that rugby had been played on the night before. it looked like it. But we can’t use those things as excuses. We conceded two very poor goals.
“I’m delighted for Adam Reach that he got his goal because he is a great professional but we can’t be relying on scoring in stoppage time to get a point. I think we deserved something for our second-half display and we looked the only side likely to win until conceding the second goal.
“But that was a really bad one from our point of view, even though it was a very good finish. Of course there is still hope of winning promotion but games are running out and draws are not good enough in our position.”
What the fans said
@DanNash86 : Perhaps we can still Reach the playoffs?
@baggieal : Is that good enough? I’m honestly not sure. But good not to lose at least.
@KiranGill0 : I am in disbelief. What does that result even mean for us and how has Reach done that?
Albion go to local rivals Birmingham City on April 3, kick-off is at 3pm