Managerless West Bromwich Albion scraped a much-needed point against Hull City with a late debut goal from on-loan striker Matej Vydra.
Steve Bruce’s Tigers side looked to have taken all three points until the 86th minute when a slick move between Baggies players Shane Long and Zoltan Gera sent Vydra clear and the Czech player slotted home coolly from eight yards out.
After the game Bruce said he was disappointed his Hull team did not hold out for all three points after on-loan midfielder Jake Livermore had given the visitors the lead in the 28th minute following excellent work by team-mate Danny Graham.
All of the pre-match gossip around The Hawthorns was speculation on who would take over the manager’s job following the shock departure of Steve Clarke. In the meantime, the task of lifting the Baggies up the table after a run of four straight defeats fell on caretaker boss Keith Downing.
Like his predecessor, Downing named a defensive line-up with Ben Foster back in goal after a four month lay-off and James Morrison replacing Claudio Yacob. However, just as in their previous home game against Norwich City, Albion found themselves a goal behind after 28 minutes. When a claim for a foul on Albion midfielder Morrison was turned down by referee Jon Moss on the leftt edge of the Hull box, the Baggies players were still protesting when the ball was pumped downfield to Graham who held things up until Livermore ran past him on the right hand side of the penalty box and slotted his slick pass under the advancing Foster.
West Brom offered little in the first half and Downing decided to start the second period by introducing England under-21 sensation Saido Berahino for the ineffectual Scott Sinclair. Hull sat back and invited the home team to attack and Berahino forced a fine save from Hull ‘keeper Allan McGregor who was happy to deflect away a powerful left foot shot from the striker.
At the other end England goalkeeper Foster kept his team in the game after a fantastic double save from first Tom Huddlestone and then Ahmed Elmohamady.
The Hull defence supported by the excellent Huddlestone in defensive midfield looked impenetrable until the 82nd minute when the fortress was finally breached. A killer ball down the right by Baggies midfielder Youssouff Mulumbu was collected by striker Shane Long – the target of a £5 million pound bid by Hull on transfer deadline day – and the Irishman laid the ball back to substitute Zoltan Gera on the right of the box. The midfielder flicked a perfect pass into the path of substitute Matej Vydra on the left of the penalty spot and the striker slotted the ball into left side of the goal much to the relief of the thousands who had forsaken the Christmas shopping to see their Albion team.
After the game caretaker boss Downing said he had no intention of going for the manager’s job full-time even though he admitted he had enjoyed his 90 minutes in the hot seat. “In the second period the players responded well and showed some heart. It was a well-worked goal and I'm pleased for Matej Vydra," he said.