Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion: Final score 1-1, spoils shared in Midlands derby

Alex Livesey - Getty Images

Aston Villa's poor start to the season nearly continued against West Bromwich Albion, but Paul Lambert's men -- who controversially started the match without Darren Bent -- were able to rally against their Midlands rivals with a late equaliser at Villa Park, earning themselves a vital point in the process.

The hosts had the better of the first half, repeatedly getting behind the Baggies defence and swinging in some dangerous crosses. Villa were also pressing hard, winning the ball very high up the pitch, and it was from one of these instances that they had their best chance, Christian Benteke dispossessing Gareth McAuley just outside the penalty area and driving towards Ben Foster's goal. Unfortunately for the home side, he delayed his shot too long and blazed over the crossbar when he did pull the trigger.

West Brom, meanwhile, managed to shrug off two serious injuries, with both Chris Brunt and Billy Jones forced off before the break, and came out swinging in the second half. Shane Long gave warning when he fired a cross past Brad Guzan only to be denied by the linesman's flag, but Villa failed to heed it and went behind two minutes later.

Joe Bennett strayed too deep, allowing a crossfield ball to find James Morrisson on the other side of the pitch and in acres of space. The Baggies midfielder made his way into the area, opting to square to Long rather than shoot. Ron Vlaar managed to get a touch on the cross, but it wasn't enough, the Dutch centre back only managing to deflect the cross into Long's outstretched foot and in.

It was an unfortunate goal for Villa to concede, but they nearly equalised immediately via a scramble in the box that the Baggies defence just about beat away. Paul Lambert introduced both Bent and Charles N'Zogbia in the hope of salvaging a point, and although it took a while in coming, the leveller would eventually arrive. The hosts' corners had looked dangerous all day, and Bent was able to turn one in in the 80th minute via some help from both Vlaar and Ciaran Clark.

Both sides pushed on for a winner, but none was to be found. Romelu Lukaku came close twice for the visitors, a deflected effort off Clark just skipping wide of Guzan's left-hand post. After a frenetic ten minutes (plus four added), the combatants were forced to settle for a point apiece. That's just about fair on both sides.

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