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Karlan Grant scores his first West Brom goal to rescue deserved point at Brighton


Brighton 1 West Brom 1

Slaven Bilic must have been wondering when his luck would turn. Having seen his side fall behind to a comical own goal from his captain Jake Livermore in the first half, the West Brom manager watched them create chance after chance as they pressed for an equaliser against Brighton.

It eventually came with just seven minutes remaining as Karlan Grant’s first goal since his £15 million move from Huddersfield ensured West Brom earned a deserved share of the spoils.

Both sides have made indifferent starts to the season, with only one win between them now from their opening six matches that leaves both in the bottom five. But having kept a first clean sheet of the season against Burnley last week, Bilic was forced to draft in Semi Ajayi in central defence after the decision to sanction the sale of Egypt international Ahmed Hegazi to the Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad hours before kick-off.

Reports emerged before kick-off that Hegazi, the club’s highest-earner, had been sold behind Bilic’s back and that the Croat was considering walking away from the club he helped gain promotion last season, although there was no doubting his presence on the touchline here.

A former defender himself, Bilic prowls just outside the technical area like he is marking a striker in his playing days, kicking every ball and bellowing instructions throughout. An early chance for his compatriot Filip Krovinovic that ended with a shot straight at Mat Ryan following some patient build-up play was an encouraging start at least, even if Brighton assumed control thereafter.

With Ben White playing in midfield when in possession and dropping into a back three alongside Adam Webster and Dutchman Joel Veltman – in for the suspended skipper Lewis Dunk – when they lost the ball, Graham Potter’s hybrid system looked designed to give twin playmakers Leandro Trossard and Adam Lallana time and space in dangerous areas.

Having seen an earlier effort correctly ruled out for offside, Neal Maupay came close to taking advantage after a sublime piece of link-up play between Trossard and Lallana, only to be denied by an excellent save from Sam Johnstone. Even if he had already conceded 13 goals before this match, the former Manchester United goalkeeper has probably been West Brom’s best player this season and produced another outstanding stop to keep out Trossard’s piledriver from the edge of the area.

But he could do nothing to stop Livermore’s disastrous own goal. Ajayi did manage to block Lallana’s initial effort, only for Tariq Lamptey’s cross to be diverted into the net via a combination of Branislav Ivanovic and the West Brom captain’s face.

Despite needing a late equaliser to earn a point in their meeting with Crystal Palace last weekend, Brighton’s overall performance hinted that Potter’s approach is starting to pay dividends. Yet in the absence of Dunk due to the reckless red card he picked up for fouling Gary Cahill, they looked vulnerable in defence as West Brom started the second half on the front foot.

A sweetly-struck effort from just outside the box from Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher looked goalbound had it not been for Veltman’s block, while Grant was immediately more of a menace having managed a meagre four touches in the entire first half. – Guardian

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