STEVE Clarke insists it is a sign of how far Albion have come that his players left Villa Park disappointed to have only taken a point in today’s 1-1 draw.
Shane Long banished memories of his injury nightmare in the same fixture last season by firing the Baggies into a deserved 51st-minute lead.
But the visitors, who remain sixth in the Barclays Premier League table, could not find the comfort of a second goal and substitute Darren Bent finally broke their resolve with the equaliser ten minutes from time.
“I thought we started the game well,” said Clarke.
“We moved it well, passed it well but without threatening or creating too many chances.
“Having been in that position I’m a little bit disappointed we didn’t go on and win it.
“Obviously, in an away game like this you probably need the second goal just to alleviate a little bit of the late pressure you know is going to come, when the ball is going to be in your box a lot.
“Unfortunately probably the only time in the game we didn’t manage to get it out on the first or second attempt, it bobbled around for the third attempt, and it fell to Darren and he scored.
“The dressing room is disappointed.
“The players are disappointed to come to Aston Villa and only get a point.
“Maybe that speaks volumes of where the club are moving, where the club has come from and where they are now.
“We can handle that disappointment and be ready for the next game.
“If you look at it objectively, going away in the Premier League, a point is always a good result.”
Prior to the derby clash the Albion chief had no fears Ben Foster would bounce back quickly from his midweek Capital One Cup error against Liverpool.
And the summer signing did not disappointment as he pulled of some crucial saves to earn the Baggies at least the point their performance warranted.
“I said the other night when he made the mistakes there was nothing to worry about – and he proved that today,” Clarke added.
“He’s a top goalkeeper and made one save in the first half off the deflected shot which was unbelievable – fantastic!
“And you need your goalkeeper to make saves in the Premier League to help you get the points.
“He’s up there with the best of them.
“Compared to some of the other keepers I’ve worked with Ben maybe a little more unorthodox – but he makes the saves just the same.
“I’ve only known him for 12 weeks but he’s been really good for us.
“He proved that since the summer because we said this is the man we want.
“We went after Ben strong and we were delighted when he chose to come.
“We knew that in games like these he would make saves that are vital.”