Samir Nabi secures point for unbeaten Baggies
ALBION Under-21s came from behind to draw 1-1 against Derby County and preserve their unbeaten start to the Barclays Under-21 Premier League season.
Alban Bunjaku's long-range strike rifled the visiting Rams into a half-time lead but Samir Nabi's well-taken low finish secured a share of the spoils at The Lamb in the 67th minute.
The point means Albion have now won three and drawn two of their opening five matches of the campaign, while they are unbeaten in ten matches stretching back to the end of last term.
The Baggies, with successive clean sheets under their belt, went into the game knowing victory would take them top of Division 2.
Jack Rose made a smart early save but was beaten after 17 minutes as Rams midfielder Alban Bunjaku unleashed a 20-yard strike which bounced awkwardly in front of the Baggies ‘keeper and found the net.
Albion displayed plenty of endeavour in the opening half an hour but lacked the cutting edge required in the final third to trouble visiting stopper Devlin Mackay.
Rose palmed a cross-come-shot to safety before his opposite number was forced into a save shortly before half-time, getting down well to keep out George Cleet’s header from Joe Ward’s free-kick.
Mason Bennett spurned a good opening at the back post for Derby within minutes of the restart before Ward sent a long-range strike over the crossbar at the other end.
Rose parried Callum Guy’s effort to safety just before the hour mark, with boss James Shan turning to subs Sam Field, Zack Elbouzedi and James Smith for inspiration.
And Albion duly levelled matters with their clearest opening of the game in the 67th minute, the ball breaking for Nabi just inside the area and he kept his composure to finish coolly past Mackay.
The hosts could have won it in the closing stages but no-one could get the finishing touch on Jonathan Leko's teasing low cross, ensuring the encounter finished all square.
Albion: Rose, Ezewele, McCourt, Cleet (Field 54’), Donnellan, Howkins, Leko, S Nabi, Roberts, Ward (Elbouzedi 60’), Edwards (Smith 60’).
Subs: Ross, Barbir.
GOAL: S Nabi 67’
BOOKED: Howkins 81'
Derby: Mackay, Ssewankambo, Lowe, Guy, Wassall, Koblenz, Santos (Vernam 74’), Bunjaku, McDonald (Zanzala 74’), Bennett, Calero.
GOAL: Bunjaku 17’
Subs: Barnes, Tuite, Cover.