Late goal denies Baggies win

West Brom 2 Crystal Palace 2

West Brom 2 Crystal Palace 2

Fitz Hall dented West Brom’s survival hopes with a last-gasp equaliser for 10- man Crystal Palace in a pulsating Barclays Premiership clash at The Hawthorns.

Albion looked to have snatched an unlikely victory as Kevin Campbell and Rob Earnshaw put them ahead to cancel out Andy Johnson’s goal.

But Hall cut short the celebrations with only seconds remaining to leave Bryan Robson’s side five points adrift of safety.

Albion held the numerical advantage for 78 minutes after Eagles defender Gonzalo Sorondo was sent off for a professional foul on Geoff Horsfield.

West Brom made a positive start and the trickery of midfielder Zoltan Gera – a target for Iain Dowie before joining Albion – saw him jink his way into the Palace box and send a flashing drive only inches too high.

Then after 12 minutes Palace were reduced to 10 men when central defender Sorondo was harshly given a straight red card by referee Dermot Gallagher.

Sorondo was adjudged to be the last defender when he brought down Horsfield as he bore down on the Palace penalty area and Gallagher instantly gave him his marching orders.

Dowie immediately took off Dougie Freedman and brought on centre-back Darren Powell as he reverted to a 4-4-1 formation with Johnson as the lone striker.

Kiraly beat away an inswinging Jonathan Greening free-kick and Campbell turned sharply but his rising shot drifted wide of the target.

The home side were trying to cash in on their numerical superiority and Darren Purse sent a glancing header wide from a Greening centre.

Gera tried his luck from 25 yards out and his dipping drive flew only a foot wide after Ronnie Wallwork had slipped the ball into his path.

Palace had few attacking opportunities but Greening produced a superb tackle on the edge of his own box to thwart Mikele Leigertwood as he prepared to shoot.

Powell made an even better challenge at the other end to deny the hard-working Horsfield after Gera had threaded a pass into the path of the Baggies striker.

Then Campbell at full stretch sent a header just over the Palace crossbar after meeting a cross from Purse.

After 47 minutes The Hawthorns was stunned when a terrible misjudgement by defender Darren Purse gifted his former Birmingham team-mate Johnson his 15th goal of the season.

There appeared little danger when Purse went to head clear a long clearance from Gabor Kiraly but he then inexplicably ducked under the ball some five yards outside of his penalty area.

Johnson was alert to the situation and he nipped in to head the ball over the advancing Russell Hoult and into an unguarded net.

Albion tried to retaliate and Kiraly had to be alert to tip over a rasping drive from overlapping defender Paul Robinson.

Robson waited only 10 minutes of the second period before replacing Horsfield with leading scorer Earnshaw.

The woodwork came to Palace’s rescue after 58 minutes when Campbell scuffed a shot across the face of goal but it struck the far post with Kiraly stranded.

Palace rarely ventured out of their half but it needed Hoult to make a low one-handed save to keep out Hall’s downward header from Wayne Routledge’s corner.

Campbell brought Albion back on level terms from close range after Powell had sliced his clearance across the face of goal.

Then in injury time Earnshaw looked to have won the game for Albion when he drilled home a reverse pass from Campbell.

But with a minute left Hall looked to get a touch to a cross to a ball heading goalwards from substitute Aki Riihilahti.

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