Where there’s a will, there’s a goal
DARREN Fletcher praised the power of positive thinking, on and off the pitch, for helping Albion snatch a deserved late draw at West Ham United on Saturday, giving credit to the 3,000 travelling fans for “willing the ball in”.
Nacer Chadli handed the Baggies a half-time advantage at the London Stadium, only for Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini to turn the game on its head.
Yet the visitors claimed a share of the spoils courtesy of a 94th-minute leveller - Gareth McAuley credited with the goal as he rose at the back post alongside Jonny Evans, whom it was initially awarded to, to head home Chris Brunt's corner.
Speaking about Albion's sell-out away following, Fletcher said: “We felt their support from the moment we walked out. They were in a good position in the ground too, behind the goal, and that made a difference.
"They stayed with us to the end and they were almost willing the ball in at the finish.
“It was a great feeling to score that equaliser in front of them and reward the travelling supporters, who have been fantastic all season."
Fletcher continued: “Given the circumstances, we have to be pleased with the draw. We were unfortunate to be behind so late on, but then the character we showed to go and get that equalising goal in the last minute, that speaks volumes about us.
“You have to keep believing and this squad does that. We always know that we have a great threat about us from set-pieces so when we got that corner late on, we knew the chance was there for us. Great delivery, great goal.”
The Albion skipper also believes Albion’s opener will prove very positive for Chadli in the weeks ahead.
“I think that will be an important goal for Nacer," said the Scotland international. "He’s a fantastic player, great quality on the ball and he was on fire for us before his injury but that knocked him back a little bit.
"Slowly but surely, he’s got back to his very best.
“His work-rate for us has never dropped, he’s always put in a great shift, but now he’s at his very best with the ball at his feet again. The pass for Mozza’s goal against Stoke and the goal he scored at West Ham are evidence of that.
“It was good to see Jonny back from injury too after a while out. He’s had a difficult time the last few weeks, but it shows what he’s all about that he could just step straight back into the side at West Ham and give a great performance and get his goal at the end too."
After putting in another huge effort, the players have been rewarded with a few days off this week, something Fletcher sees as important both mentally and physically.
“The group works very hard in training, whether there’s a game coming up at the weekend or not, and you can see the value in that when you still have enough in the tank to score in the 94th minute," he added.
“But we’ve got a few days off now just to recharge the batteries and to prepare for the final stretch. The body and the mind needs that little break.
“We’ll be back in later this week to really start building towards the Bournemouth game on the 25th, which gives us a good long time to get really prepared for it."