James Morrison saves West Brom's blushes with equaliser vs. Bristol City
An equaliser in added time from James Morrison saved West Brom's blushes and earned them a replay as they drew 2-2 with Championship side Bristol City in the FA Cup third round at The Hawthorns.
It was the second consecutive home game in which Tony Pulis' side have scored in injury time, following Jonny Evans' late winner in the 2-1 victory over Stoke. While Pulis will undoubtedly be pleased by the character his side are showing to get these late goals, he will have been disappointed by WBA's performance against Bristol City.
While they had more of the ball, and created more chances than their opponents, West Brom were simply far too sloppy in possession. In particular, they lacked any real quality in the final third, with several opportunities to cross the ball being spurned, the deliveries either hitting the first defender or being over-hit.
Some credit must go to Pulis for making a triple substitution that brought Saido Berahino and Callum McManaman into the fray, two players who showed the kind of quality befitting of their status as Premier League players. Berahino finished smartly from McManaman's cut-back for West Brom's first goal, while the former Wigan man also provided the cross that was worked back into the path of Morrison for West Brom's equaliser.
Prior to the game, a replay would have been the last thing that Pulis would have wanted, but considering how things panned out against Bristol City, the West Brom head coach will simply be happy to still be in the tie.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Ben Foster, 6 -- A decent return after 10 months out. Made a good save to deny by Luke Freeman, unlucky to see rebound fall straight into the path of Kieran Agard. Also had a couple of poor kicks, not helped by some terrible back passes.
DF James Chester, 4 -- Playing out of position, and it showed. Looked nervous defensively, and the quality of his crossing in the final third was poor.
DF Gareth McAuley, 5 -- A rare poor performance from the centre-back. Should have done better with his clearance for Bristol City's second goal, and played a couple of risky passes that put West Brom in trouble.
DF Jonny Evans, 6 -- Gave away the free kick for Bristol City's first goal, and was out-paced in the build up to their second. Provided the assist for Morrison's late winner and looked assured on the ball with others struggling.
DF Chris Brunt, 6 -- Did a good job defensively and got forward well in support of his winger. Still struggling to find the required quality of delivery on a consistent basis.
MF Stephane Sessegnon, 6 -- Another lively display from the winger, who constantly had the measure of Bristol City's full-backs, but lacked the decision-making and quality in the final third that he has shown in recent weeks.
MF James Morrison, 7 -- A smart finish on the volley for West Brom's equaliser capped a tenacious display from the Scotland international, who was equally effective defensively as he was going forward.
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MF Darren Fletcher, 6 -- Some sloppy moments in possession marred an energetic performance at the heart of midfield. Kept pushing forward as West Brom chased the equaliser, and was the one starter who provided good crosses in the final third.
MF James McClean, 6 -- Was quiet on his return from suspension. With Sessegnon looking lively on the opposite wing, McClean didn't see much of the ball. Work rate was tremendous as always and nearly scored with an excellent volley from the edge of the box.
FW Rickie Lambert, 5 -- Better when dropping deeper to receive the ball and bringing others into play, but looked off the pace and lacks mobility in the forward areas.
FW Salomon Rondon, 5 -- Equally as ineffective as Lambert. Worked hard but out-muscled too easily and should have at least hit the target when through on goal.
DF Craig Dawson, 6 -- Looked far more assured than Chester defensively, but didn't have the same opportunities going forward.
MF Callum McManaman, 7 -- Made a real difference to West Brom's play, was quick and direct, running at the defence and providing two good deliveries for the goals.
FW Saido Berahino, 7 -- Demonstrated the composure and quality in front of goal that Rondo is sorely lacking with a sharp finish from the edge of the box that gave Pulis' side the lead.
Matthew Evans is a lifelong West Brom fan and season-ticket holder. You can follow him on Twitter @MattEvansWBA.