Blackburn Rovers 1-1 West Bromwich Albion: Baggies drop points in promotion race

Filip Krovinovic (right) is on a season-long loan at West Brom from Portuguese club Benfica

West Bromwich Albion dropped two points in their quest for an automatic Championship promotion place as they were held to a draw by former boss Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers.

The Baggies’ failure to make it four straight wins means they stay second, still behind leaders Leeds United on goal difference.

But third-placed Brentford’s earlier win at Derby narrows that gap to only three points.

Joe Rothwell’s second-half equaliser earned play-off hopefuls Rovers a deserved share of the spoils after Filip Krovinovic had put Albion ahead.

But Rovers wasted two great chances to win it – and are now four points off a play-off place.

Albion waste chance to stretch clear

Albion went ahead on 41 minutes when top scorer Charlie Austin picked out Krovinovic with a far-post cross and the Croatian midfielder found the bottom-left corner from 12 yards.

It was a third goal for Albion from Krovinovic since his arrival last summer – and all of them have come on the road.

Having scored four minutes before the interval, he should then have done so again four minutes after the restart, but when Mateus Pereira shot from range and Christian Walton could only parry, Krovinovic hit the right post with the rebound.

It took a quadruple substitution by Mowbray to turn the game Rovers’ way as two of the replacements combined to level within two minutes of coming on.

Former Birmingham City loan forward Sam Gallagher galloped down the right, and outmuscled Kyle Bartley before pulling it back and the untracked Rothwell drilled home from 12 yards.

Albion’s own newly-arrived subs nearly put their team back in front when, from the artful Pereira’s lovely chipped ball over the top, Hal Robson-Kanu squared left to Grady Diangana, but he missed his kick.

And it was Rovers who came closest to snatching all three points.

West Brom needed a point-blank save by advancing keeper Sam Johnstone to deny the fifth of Mowbray’s subs, Jacob Davenport.

Then, in a crazy scramble crying out for a show of composure, Albion were finally rescued when Bartley cleared off the line from another of the Blackburn ‘game changers’, Lewis Holtby.

Albion boss Slaven Bilic was unable to expand afterwards on a late touchline incident involving Blackburn defender Darragh Lenihan that not only ignored social distancing conventions, but ended up with both their names in referee Jarred Gillett’s notebook.

What’s the next twist in the drama?

Albion’s next concern is how Leeds United – in mourning following the death of club legend Jack Charlton – fare in the Sunday lunchtime clash at Swansea.

Leeds could go three points clear if they win – but defeat could drop them back to second, on goal difference.

On Tuesday, Albion host fourth-placed Fulham, who have won their last four games and would climb within two points of the Baggies if they win.

Blackburn are also in action that night at another of the play-off contenders, Millwall.

But, if Albion were to lose to Fulham on Tuesday, that would allow Brentford the chance to go second if they could win at home to Preston the following night.

Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Lancashire:

“It’s frustrating that we didn’t get all three points but they’re a very good side and we acknowledge that they had good chances first half and could have been two goals in front. Although we’re disappointed about their goal as he looked a yard offside to me.

“There’s a reason why they’re at the top of the table with Leeds. They have very experienced, high quality players who pick the right pass.

“But we put in a fantastic effort and we had some unbelievable chances in the second half, one-on-ones that should be going in the net.

“We had to make changes as they were on top. But we gambled, played with two No 10s, it took them by surprise. And it paid off.”

West Bromwich Albion head coach Slaven Bilic told BBC Radio WM:

“The mood is very low. We came here to win, to keep the gap as it was, but one point is better than nothing. Now we have to be ready for Fulham on Tuesday.

“(Brentford’s result) put more pressure on us, of course. But we have to worry about our own results. The end product was missing.

“We have to kill the game off. Unfortunately we didn’t. We have to take our chances. We created so many. Four or five big chances. But you know what happens if you don’t take them.

“They got fresh legs. And, at the end, we needed Sam Johnstone to make a couple of great saves.”


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