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West Brom 1 Norwich 1 - Report and pictures

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Albion missed a chance to climb above Norwich in the table when they became the latest club to succumb to a late Canary show.

Having led for the majority of the game thanks to Dwight Gayle's opener 12 minutes into a dominant first-half, the Baggies were undone by Jordan Rhodes's equaliser seven minutes from time.

Both goals were similar, swept home at the near post by predatory strikes following a cross from the right.

But Norwich - who have made a habit of scoring late on this season - will be far more pleased with the draw because it keeps the three-point gap between the two sides intact.

These two sides have more than 100 goals between them this season, and they produced a pulsating match in front of a sell-out crowd at The Hawthorns.

As life without Harvey Barnes started, Darren Moore's plans were dealt a further blow by late injuries to Matt Phillips and James Morrison.

That meant a first league start in midfield for 18-year-old talent Rekeem Harper, who lined up alongside Gareth Barry and Chris Brunt, 19 and 16 years older than him respectively.

In fact, Barry had already played more than 50 Premier League games by the time Rekeem Harper was born.

But the youngster did not look out of place in a coming-of-age performance.

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It took less than a minute for the teenager, who had replaced Phillips on the right side of the midfield trio, to burst forward at pace. The Hawthorns purred in appreciation.

Albion were pressing Norwich high and snapping into tackles. Ten minutes in, a wicked first-time delivery from Holgate looked destined for Jay Rodriguez's head but Tim Krul got just enough glove on it before Kieran Gibbs fired over.

That should have served as a warning for Norwich, because two minutes later another Holgate delivery led to the opener.

It was Harper who initially curled the ball out to the Everton loanne, and then the full-back sent an inviting delivery towards the near post.

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Gayle did what Gayle does best, got in front of his man, and steered home from six yards out for his 14th of the season.

Another Holgate delivery caused havoc soon after, when Chris Brunt thought he was felled in the box, and then Rodriguez fizzed a shot inches wide.

The Baggies were bullying their visitors, getting into their faces and forcing them into mistakes while the crowd were putting the hapless Tim Krul under as much pressure as possible.

It took until the half-hour mark for Norwich to threaten the Albion goal, when Sam Johnstone pulled off a fantastic reflex save to keep Teemu Pukki's header out.

It was Harper who had the next shot on target, forcing Krul to get down low to his right after great from Barry to keep possession in midfield before slipping the youngster in.

But Norwich grew into the match towards the end of the first half, and started to pose a few more questions of Albion's back line.

Albion started the second half just as bright as the first. Hal Robson-Kanu nearly caught Krul out with a curling effort from 25 yards the Norwich keeper had to tip over the bar.

Krul made another smart save moments later, beating away Barry's effort from the resulting corner.

But Norwich went straight up the other end and forced Johnstone to push away a cross before Pukki's shot deflected over.

The Canaries were starting to find more pockets of space in midfield, although Barry was doing his best to thwart them with well-timed sliding tackles.

It was a pulsating game by now, end-to-end stuff with tackles flying in.

Alex Tettey was booked for pulling Rodriguez back on a counter attack before the same Albion man was shown yellow for lunging in on Max Aarons.

Daniel Farke sent on Denis Srbeny, and the first thing the substitute did was spin Barry and force Johnstone into a save.

Tensions were mounting, and 20 minutes to go a rare Craig Dawson error allowed dangerman Pukki in behind. But Norwich's top scorer dribbled a scuffed shot wide before holding his head in his hands.

Holgate whistled a fiercely-struck half-volley inches over the bar with his wrong foot before Albion had penalty appeals waved away when Dawson was sandwiched in the air.

But while Moore left his starting XI on the pitch, Farke made two more changes, and it worked immediately.

Jordan Rhodes and Kenny McLean had been on the pitch a matter of moments before the latter crossed to the near post for the former to touch home an equaliser.

Moore responded by sending Sako on for Gayle, and his cross was nearly turned in by Robson-Kanu but Krul sprung to his right to save.

There was still time for Holgate to go close twice with shots in injury time, but Albion will feel it's two points dropped.

Key moments

10 Holgate whips a delicious cross in that Krul just about gets a finger too.

12 GOAL ALBION - Gayle gets in front of his man to steer home Holgate's cross.

32 Johnstone's reflex save denies Pukki's header.

34 Harper has a shot saved by Krul after being slipped in by Barry.

46 Krul tips Robson-Kanu's 25-yard effort over the bar before saving Barry's driven shot.

58 Tettey booked for pulling back Rodriguez on an Albion counter-attack.

70 Pukki scuffs a good chance wide after a Dawson error.

74 Holgate whistles a half-volley just over the bar.

76 Albion want a penalty when Dawson is sandwiched in the air, but nothing given.

83 GOAL NORWICH - Rhodes tucks home an equaliser with his first touch of the game.

Man of the match

Gareth Barry - Used all his experience and know-how to win the midfield battle.

Position in the table

4th - with 47 points from 27 games.

Teams

Albion (4-3-3): Johnstone, Holgate, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs, Harper, Barry, Brunt (c), Gayle (Sako 85), Rodriguez, Robson-Kanu (Leko 90+1).

Unused subs: Myhill, Adarabioyo, Bartley, Field, Hoolahan.

Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul, Aarons, Zimmerman, Godfrey, Lewis (McLean 81), Tettey, Vrancic, Cantwell (Rhodes 81), Buendia (Srbeny 67), Hernandez, Pukki.

Unused subs: McGovern, Trybull, Klose, Thompson.

Referee: Scott Duncan

Attendance: 26,544 (2,723 away)

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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