Bouncing Baggies avoid defeat
Graham Dorrans' equaliser ensured West Brom's promotion season did not end in defeat as they drew 1-1 with Barnsley.
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 02/05/10 3:34pm
Graham Dorrans' stoppage-time equaliser ensured West Brom's promotion season did not end in defeat as they drew 1-1 with Barnsley at The Hawthorns.
Dorrans, who was named the club's player of the season, was left unmarked in the box to fire home a 90th minute leveller that sparked a celebratory pitch invasion as the Baggies marked their return to the Premier League.
Earlier, the Tykes had looked to have taken home all three points when Hugo Colace prodded home in the 59th minute to hand them a shock lead.
But Dorrans - inspirational throughout the campaign - ensured the club's supporters ended the season on a high as he levelled to round off the season that saw the Midlands outfit gain promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
Albion were facing their first defeat at The Hawthorns since early January and the first time they had failed to find the net in 26 league games.
But both sets of fans were partying at the final whistle, with the away contingent left celebrating South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday's relegation from the Championship.
The result left West Brom on 91 points - a club record in a single season - but not enough to eclipse the 92 recorded by Leicester in 2002/03, the highest ever recorded for the runners-up in England's second tier.
The encounter naturally had a typical end-of-season feel about it in chilly conditions not associated with the final weekend of the season.
And a tendency from both sides to stand off and not commit to challenges, likely due to the dead-rubber nature of the match, led to an open contest from the off.
Martin Devaney lashed wide for the Tykes before Chris Brunt whistled an effort inches off target at the other end, while neat interchange in and around the area was often stifled due to last-ditch tackling or wayward shooting.
The two teams were more than comfortable playing a passing game as a Mexican wave swept around The Hawthorns midway through the first half, although goalscoring opportunities had quickly become few and far between.
Steven Reid and Chris Brunt came close to a breakthrough from Dorrans' 34th-minute corner before the midfielder picked up the loose ball and saw his shot blocked by the arm of ex-Albion stalwart Darren Moore but, as the half-time whistle sounded, neither goalkeeper had yet to make any real save of note.
The wasteful finishing continued after the restart, ensuring a repeat of West Brom's resounding 7-0 triumph over the Tykes on the final day of the 2006/07 season was extremely unlikely.
Iain Hume blasted high and wide before Roman Bednar followed suit having found himself in the clear when centre-back Ryan Shotton mis-judged his interception.
But Colace showed it could be done in the 59th minute when, with the home defence sleeping, he popped up unmarked to calmly side-foot home Jacob Butterfield's inswinging free-kick from close range.
Luke Steele produced a fine save to tip Robert Koren's goalbound drive over the bar as Albion went in search of an equaliser.
The hosts significantly upped the tempo after Barnsley's opener with Steele far busier between the sticks, although he only had to watch Koren's header drift harmlessly wide when the Slovenia captain should have done better.
Jonathan Macken should have put the result beyond doubt but sent his header wide - providing the opportunity for an unmarked Dorrans to level matters and spark a celebratory pitch invasion.