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Baggies hit back

Luka Modric shot us into the lead at the Hawthorns but West Brom mounted a speedy response and it finished a point apiece on Saturday afternoon.

Luka Modric shot us into the lead at the Hawthorns but West Brom mounted a speedy response and it finished a point apiece on Saturday afternoon.

It was an entertaining encounter but not one that encompassed that many real clear-cut chances. The loss of Modric to injury shortly after his 27th-minute goal was a blow, his quickness of thought and feet bring so much to a game, as well as that ability to unlock tight defences.

West Brom were galvanised by their goal four minutes before the break and were much more purposeful in the second period as the atmosphere in the stands increased in volume.

Indeed, Carlo Cudicini was forced into two fine late saves as the Baggies went in search of a late winner.

The headline news ahead of kick-off was the team included two debut-makers in the shape of William Gallas and Rafael van der Vaart. The Frenchman lined up alongside Younes Kaboul at the heart of defence, while the Dutchman dropped in behind Roman Pavlyuchenko. Another new recruit, Stipe Pletikosa, was our substitute goalkeeper.

There was a very patient opening to the game, with possession kept for a lengthy period before Kaboul arrowed over the top in the direction of Gareth Bale, who turned back on himself before scooping towards Modric, but the returning Croatian could not hit the target.

Van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon combined just before seven minutes showed on the clock, with the new boy producing a sumptious piece of skill to lay on a shooting opportunity for the winger, who unfortunately shot over the bar.

The home side were chasing shadows a little bit as the half progressed as passing and ball retention were an impressive element of our game - Bale, Modric and van der Vaart were nicely warming to their task, with skipper Tom Huddlestone pulling the midfield strings and Wilson Palacios tenacious beside him.

On 27 minutes a deserved lead was recorded when van der Vaart chipped into the air towards Pavlyuchenko. Gabriel Tamas won the headed duel, but not convincingly and the loose ball was smacked home by Modric past Scott Carson into the bottom corner of the net.

Sadly, Modric was forced off with an injury he tried and failed to run off and Niko Kranjcar was called upon to replace his countryman.

Paul Scharner unleashed a fierce drive six minutes before the break that had the home crowd bellowing a hopeful gasp but they were able to celebrate for real seconds later. Marc-Antoine Fortune tested Carlo Cudicini with a drive on the run from an angle and the ball flew up and was headed across goal to the far post by Peter Odemwingie for Chris Brunt to head home.

After a sluggish start to the second half it was a dash infield by Lennon and imaginitive play from van der Vaart that resulted in Bale sprinting in on goal. It took a crucial one-handed stop by Carson to deny another lead being taken.

A thumping drive from Kaboul also tested the reflexes of Carson before there was a chance on the turn for Gallas from a Bale corner and a Kranjcar knockdown, he fired over.

Harry Redknapp elected to make a change on 64 minutes with the introduction of Robbie Keane in place of Pavlyuchenko.

Half chances came and went in front of a crowd of 23,642, Harry then played his last card in the shape of Peter Crouch with 12 minutes left on the clock - Lennon was withdrawn.

A crucial block from Huddlestone denied Jerome Thomas a clear blast on goal as West Brom upped the tempo in the closing minutes and Cudicini then had to react smartly to save from Jonas Olsson.

With just over a minute left, Cudicini had to perform an outstanding save to his left to prevent Odemwingie steering in what would have probably been the winner.

Tamas then perhaps should have scored after being in pole position following a Odemwingie backheel inside the area. Keane fired the last effort on goal, a 20-yard volley fielded by Carson and it ended 1-1.

West Brom (4-4-2): Carson, Jara, Tamas, Olsson, Shorey, Mulumbu, Odemwingie, Scharner (Reid 73), Brunt (Barnes 78), Thomas, Fortune (Tchoyi 86). Unused: Myhill, Pablo, Bednar, Cox.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Cudicini; Corluka, Gallas, Kaboul, Bale; Lennon (Crouch, 77), Huddlestone, Palacios, Modric (Kranjcar, 32); Van der Vaart; Pavlyuchenko (Keane, 64). Unused subs: Pletikosa, Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Jenas.

Goals: West Brom - Brunt, 41. Spurs - Modric, 27.

Attendance: 23,642.

Referee: Mr H Webb.