West Bromwich Albion 1 Blackburn Rovers 1

Last updated : 26 April 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Albion would have moved two points clear of the bottom three if they could have held on to the lead that on-loan Manchester United midfielder Kieran Richardson had given them with a sublime 32nd minute free-kick.

But battling Blackburn, who only had their pride to play for and the fact that they were seeking to extend a four-match unbeaten run in the Premiership, were determined not to fulfill the role of fall guys.

Their battling display deserved at least a point and that is what they collected when Australian international Brett Emerton fired them back on to level terms after 64 minutes.

It could well prove to be a costly strike for Albion. The point moved them up a place to third from bottom but they still trail Crystal Palace on goal difference. To add to their problems is the fact that their next two games are at home to Arsenal and away at Manchester United.

Albion's determination to try and make a flying start got the better of striker Geoff Horsfield who was booked for diving in the penalty area after just three minutes.

To their credit, Blackburn came to make a game of it and posed Albion plenty of problems before Richardson struck with his wonder strike.

Jonathan Stead saw his fifth minute shot saved by Albion goalkeeper Russell Hoult before Dominic Matteo flashed a header from a long throw by Morten Gamst Pedersen just over the bar ten minutes later.

But Albion's urgency in attack was all the greater due to their predicament and they felt hard done by not to be awarded a penalty after 18 minutes. Skipper Kevin Campbell appeared to be wrestled to the ground by Andy Todd only for referee Steve Bennett to wave away their protests.

But Bennett had no hesitation in awarding Albion a free-kick 25 yards from goal in the 32nd minute that paved the way for Richardson's goal.

Horsfield was held down by Blackburn's New Zealand international central defender Ryan Nelsen. Richardson, Zoltan Gera and Neil Clement crowded round the ball but it was Richardson who ran forward.

He clipped a curling shot over the Blackburn wall and into the far corner of the net past the despairing left hand of Rovers goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The strike should have settled Albion's nerves, but they were fortunate to get to half-time with their lead intact. They suffered a severe case of jitters after Richardson's strike and only the woodwork prevented Blackburn forcing their way back on to level terms.

Under pressure from Blackburn midfielder Robbie Savage, Albion defender Martin Albrechtsen was only able to head a cross out to Stead.

The England Under-21 international lashed in a first-time volley that beat Hoult only to hit the post and fly across the face of goal to safety.

Having ridden their luck to survive that scare Albion should really have increased their lead five minutes into the second half. Richard Chaplow floated over a left-wing corner to the far post that picked out the unmarked Clement.

It looked easier to score than to miss the target but the former Chelsea defender steered a weak header from six yards well wide.

Clement was frustrated again two minutes later but this time it was by the brilliance of Friedel who beat away his stinging 20 yard free-kick.

Blackburn's frustration at struggling to find a way back into the match began to boil over as Pedersen and then Todd quickly found their way into Bennett's notebook.

But their persistence was finally rewarded in the 64th minute when Albion's defence was cut in two by Pedersen.

The Norwegian international surged down the right wing and fired in a low cross that fell perfectly into the path of the unmarked Emerton who was able to drill his ten-yard shot past Hoult.

The goal changed the complexion of the match completely with Albion suddenly looking frail in defence. A slip by Clement presented Pedersen with a golden chance only for him to be denied by a last-ditch challenge from Paul

Hoult was then grateful to palm away a header from Savage before seeing Albrechtsen hack the ball to safety. Clement led a late Albion rally when he volleyed a free-kick from Ronnie Wallwork over the bar to leave frustrated Albion having to settle for a point when they desperately needed all three.