Vydra's first Baggies goal earns more-than-deserved point
MATEJ Vydra’s first goal for the club in the dying minutes brought Albion fans some much-needed Christmas cheer.
Jake Livermore looked to have delivered the killer blow as early as the 28th minute, with Steve Bruce’s men camping in their own half for the remainder of the Hawthorns encounter.
However, on a rare City attack, the recalled Ben Foster again proved his worth as he pulled off a world-class double save from Tom Huddlestone and Ahmed Elmohamady on 68.
And it proved a major turning point in the game as super-subs Zoltan Gera and Vydra combined four minutes from time to earn a more-than-deserved point for the hosts.
The on-loan Udinese striker’s finish not only levelled proceedings but stopped a run of four successive losses to hopefully inject some confidence into caretaker boss Keith Downing's troops.
Downing made three changes as he recalled Foster, Scott Sinclair and James Morrison in an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
The Tigers were unchanged, with former Baggie Curtis Davies at the heart of their defence.
Albion started brightly and Yannick Sagbo needed to be alert in the sixth minute as he cleared Jonas Olsson’s goalbound header from Chris Brunt’s back-post corner.
Four minutes later, right-back James Chester nodded over the Albion bar from Huddlestone’s near-post flag-kick.
The hosts were applying all the pressure but it was City who stole a lead on the counter-attack on 28.
Morrison lost his feet in the visitors’ penalty area and the ball fell to David Meyler, who pumped it forward for Danny Graham to race onto with Albion’s defence all over the place.
Billy Jones and Brunt recovered but when the Tigers striker slipped a pass through for Livermore, the central midfielder coolly slotted through Foster’s legs to find the net.
The goal gave Bruce’s men confidence and on 35 Graham held the ball up for Meyler, whose 15-yard drive struck Gareth McAuley and spun just wide of the right-hand post.
A minute before the break, the Baggies mustered their first shot as Stephane Sessegnon teed up Morrison from Liam Ridgewell’s ball into the box and the Scotland international sliced his effort horribly wide of the right-hand post.
Downing made a change at the break, with Saido Berahino replacing Sinclair, and the England Under-21 international added some impetus to Albion’s attacking play.
Jones closed down Maynor Figueroa’s attempted clearance and the ball fell to Berahino, whose left-foot volley stung the hands of Allan McGregor on 54.
A minute later, Davies headed Brunt’s corner out and Mulumbu returned it with interest as Huddlestone just managed to clip the DR Congo international’s shot over the crossbar.
Foster showed his international class as he made a tremendous double save in the 68th minute. Sagbo played the ball inside for Huddlestone and his shot from a tight angle deflected off Olsson, forcing the England keeper into a fine reaction save. He then did superbly to get to his feet and kick Elmohamady’s follow-up effort away.
Moments later, Vydra came on for Sessegnon.
Brunt expertly picked out Berahino from a corner in the 74th minute but the Academy product could not direct his header on target.
Seconds later, he was unfortunate to see his 20-yard drive deflect over off Davies.
Downing’s last throw of the dice came ten minutes from time when he brought on Zoltan Gera for Ridgewell, with Brunt dropping to left-back.
The switch had the desired effect as Long battled for the ball on the edge of the area and found Gera. The 'Magic Magyar' kept his composure and slid in Vydra, who slotted the ball home past McGregor, with four minutes to go.
You could feel the tension ease inside the stadium and there were no further chances, leaving Albion to reflect on a hard-earned point.
ALBION (4-3-3): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell (Gera 79); Morrison, Brunt, Mulumbu; Sessegnon (Vydra 69), Long, Sinclair (Berahino HT). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Yacob, Lugano, Amalfitano.
HULL (4-4-2): McGregor; Chester, Bruce, Davies, Figueroa; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler; Graham (Boyd 80), Sagbo (Fryatt 88). Subs not used: Harper (gk), Rosenior, Koren, McShane, Faye.
GOALS: ALBION – Vydra (86). HULL – Livermore (28).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Jones (foul 64), Gera (foul 88). HULL – Meyler (foul 40).
REFEREE: J Moss (West Yorkshire).
ALBION STARMAN: Billy Jones.