Sam Allardyce couldn’t be too critical of his West Brom players after they failed to hold onto their lead and so were forced to share the points with Aston Villa on Sunday.
Keinan Davis’ stoppage time equaliser made it 2-2 in the West Midlands derby, after Matheus Pereira and a Tyrone Mings own goal had turned the game in Albion’s favour. Anwar El Ghazi had earlier opened the scoring for Villa.
The late drama was, regrettably, as a result of a lapse in the defence as Kyle Bartley and Sam Johnstone – who for so long have been among Allardyce’s best performers during his tenure – failed to deal with a late ball in the six yard box and Davis nipped in.
It leaves them nine points adrift with five games to play. Win all five, and they hit the 40-point mark, so often deemed the checkpoint for survival.
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Despite the frustrations of the late goal – claiming the bragging rights ran parallel with the need for points, for many Baggies, as regards to what a victory would’ve meant – Allardyce didn’t wish to dig any of his players out after another earnest showing – until the death.
“Not quite for us unfortunately. I can’t praise the players enough. They’ve done it against all the odds and recovered from a disappointing Thursday result,” he said. “My players today were absolutely fantastic. In the end, the third goal didn’t come our way. One slip and we paid the price.
“Overall, after a shaky start and a sloppy penalty given away, we grew into the game. We were exceptionally dangerous and their keeper had to pull off some saves.
“It’s a great shame, but I’m really proud of the players. Like I said, when we could, we put them under real pressure, but the pressure at the end, we just couldn’t hang on.
“There’s been plenty of games like this for us where we’ve ended up drawing instead of winning but at least the performances have been there.
“If we get a lead, let’s make sure we hang on to it but I don’t want to be too critical of my players today.”