West Bromwich Albion was denied victory by Barnsley in a nightmare stadium where they have not won in 74 years. Denying Valerien Ismael’s side a chance to pull level with second-placed Bournemouth.
Ismael’s men were the superior side on their first visit to a foggy Oakwell since departing to join Albion in May. But they were thwarted by a mixture of the woodwork and some brave defense.
West Bromwich Albion is still third in the Championship. But following Chinese owner Guochuan Lai’s first visit to the club in three years last week. They are more aware than ever that they need to reinforce upfront in January after failing to score in four of their last six games.
Instead, it was Ismael’s previous club that had more reason to rejoice. As new Barnsley manager, Poya Asbaghi drew his third game in a row to move within seven points of safety.
Before halftime, Albion had the greatest two chances to score, the first coming from Cedric Kipre in the fifth minute.
Ismael’s first Albion recruit, Barnsley old boy Alex Mowatt, fired in a left-foot free-kick from the right. Which the loosely marked Kipre slammed a strong header against the right post.
Then, off Conor Townsend’s pull-back. Jordan Hugill should have done better. But Callum Brittain stopped his low side-foot finish.
Josh Benson attempted a Cristiano Ronaldo-style right-foot free-kick from long range. Which would have dipped just past the bar as Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone did not turn it over.
Why couldn’t West Bromwich be able to defeat Barnsley?
After the half, Albion came near again when Callum Robinson’s deflected attempt on the turn was sent wide by home keeper Brad Collins.
Then, after eluding Collins, Albion’s top scorer Karlan Grant was blocked by home defender Michal Helik’s boot at the near post at full stretch from an angle.
Grady Diangana and Darnell Furlong also found the back of the net for the Tykes. As a low ball sailed across the face of goal unopposed before Matt Clarke’s header was deflected into the top corner.
In a game with four bookings. Three of which went to the visitors, other referees could have seen Heilk’s high, late challenge on Hugill as a red card on less hazy evenings.
However, on such a bleak. Dismal evening in South Yorkshire, something extraordinary was required to break down a well-organized Barnsley rearguard and Albion lacked it.
West Bromwich might potentially slip further behind the top two if Bournemouth, who are two points ahead of the Baggies tonight, wins at Middlesbrough on Saturday lunchtime. And leaders Fulham, who are two points ahead of them, win at home to Sheffield United on Monday.
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