Roberts on target and Rose saves pen in draw
ALBION Under-21s opened 2016 with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against fellow promotion chasers Arsenal.
Tyler Roberts handed the hosts a first-half lead with a fine finish, an advantage which was preserved by goalkeeper Jack Rose on the hour mark as he parried Daniel Crowley's penalty to safety after Shaun Donnellan had been harshly penalised.
But the Gunners, having dominated for large spells of the encounter, drew level in the 65th minute courtesy of Chris Willock as both sides went on to share the spoils in an encounter between second and third place in Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division 2.
The point continues an impressive campaign for the Baggies, who have now lost just one of their 12 games to date.
Roberts coolly swept home the first real chance of the encounter after 14 minutes, converting Adil Nabi's inch-perfect free-kick from 12 yards.
Rose saved from Willock at the other end as the visitors then went on to enjoy a sustained spell of pressure, albeit without testing the Baggies keeper for a second time before the interval.
Andre Wright flashed an effort wide within a minute of the restart but Albion were soon indebted to Rose for preserving their lead.
The Albion stopper first made a great reflex save to deny Ben Sheaf before making an even better stop seconds later to keep out the Arsenal man for a second time.
Kyle Edwards was denied by Ryan Huddart as the Baggies came close to a second on a cold night at Tamworth's Lamb Ground.
But the hosts again had Rose to thank for maintaining their advantage on the hour mark as he dived to his left to keep out Crowley's penalty after Donnellan had been harshly punished for impeding at a corner.
Yet the Albion keeper could do nothing to prevent Willock levelling matters in the 65th minute with a strike across goal into the far corner.
Nabi saw his curling effort parried to safety before Wright came close to a late winner but it finished all square.
ALBION: Rose, Ezewele, McCourt, Ward, Howkins, Donnellan, Roberts, A Nabi, Wright, Edwards (Cleet 75), Leko (Elbouzedi 90).
Subs: Ross, R Nabi, Field.
GOAL: Roberts (14)
ARSENAL GOAL: Willock (65)