Mbaye Diagne’s second-half header saw West Bromwich Albion deny Wolves a first Hawthorns win since 1996, although the Baggies’ imminent relegation appears closer than ever.
Following late heartbreak at Villa Park last time out, Albion side looked to go one better against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side, in order to keep their faint survival hopes alive. Whilst an injury-hit Wolves looked to gain revenge on their bitterest of rivals following their 3-2 defeat in the reverse fixture at Molineux.
With Sam Allardyce attempting to match Wolves’ formation, Dara O’Shea replaced Callum Robinson in the starting line up. Although Nuno elected to operate with a back four, whilst making three changes to the side that lost 4-0 Burnley as youngsters Fabio Silva, Owen Otasowie and Vitinha all returned.
The opening stages saw both sides create half-chances. A couple of Darnell Furlong efforts failed to trouble Rui Patrício, whilst Semi Ajayi headed wide from a free kick. The visitors threatened through Rúben Neves who twice took aim from range, but missed the target on both occasions. Romain Saïss also wasted an opportunity with his header directed straight at Sam Johnstone.
It was on the half-hour mark where Wolves should have been ahead. With Ajayi losing possession in his own penalty area, Johnstone produced a superb save to prevent Nélson Semedo from breaking the deadlock. The Albion shot-stopper was called into action again just seconds later, with Vitinha’s swerving effort forcing a corner which Saïss headed over.
Allardyce ruthlessly admitted to being deceived by Nuno as the Albion boss replaced O’Shea with Matt Phillips, which saw the hosts to revert to a four man defence.
It was on the stroke of time when Wolves got their noses in front, with Fabio Silva netting his fourth goal of the season. Following intricate play in the final third, Kyle Bartley’s attempted clearance ricocheted off the £35 million man and looped over Johnstone.Embed from Getty Images
A half-time substitute was made, but not by either manager as Mike Dean replaced Paul Tierney as the man in the middle.
The Baggies’ looked revitalised during the opening moments of the second-half with Conor Townsend’s effort saved by Patricio. The Portugal number one then made a remarkable stop to prevent Conor Gallagher equalising from close range. It was a matter of time until Albion got their goal.
With Phillips and Townsend linking up on the left-hand side, the latter produced a pinpoint delivery to find the unmarked Diagne who headed home with ease to score his third goal in English football.
Johnstone prevented Silva from restoring the visitors’ lead following a smart save from a deflected effort. From then on, mother nature then took control of the game as a combination of rain and hail saw both sides’ hopes of a derby day win fade away.Embed from Getty Images
A point is meaningless for both teams with Albion destined for the drop and Wolves’ season petering out timidly. Whilst both sets of fans will be forced to share the bragging rights for another season at least.
Ratings: Johnstone (7), Furlong (6), O’Shea (6), Bartley (6), Ajayi (5) Townsend (7), Yokuslu (6), Gallagher (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Pereira (6), Diagne (7) Subs: Phillips (6), Robinson (5)
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, O’Shea (Phillips, 33′), Bartley (c), Ajayi, Townsend; Yokuslu; Gallagher, Maitland-Niles (Robinson, 78′); Pereira, Diagne.
Unused Subs: Button, Peltier, Diangana, Sawyers, Livermore, Grant, Robson-Kanu.
Booked: Maitland-Niles (69′), Furlong (88′)
Wolves: Patricio; Semedo, Coady (c), Saïss, Aït-Nouri (Kilman, 82′); Neves, Dendoncker; Otasowie (Podence, 71′), Vitinha (Gibbs-White, 80′), Traoré; Silva.
Unused Subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Willian José, Cundle, Corbeanu, Marques.
Referees: Paul Tierney, Mike Dean