He did it against Wolves and last night he scored late on against Stoke City to secure a priceless point for the Baggies. Its 2 in 2 for Carlos Vela and surely the Mexican has to start against Birmingham on Saturday.

West Bromwich Albion thoroughly deserved their point at the Britannia but it could have been three had Asmir Begovic not pulled of three great saves in the dying moments of the game.

But still a point is a point and I’m sure most Baggies fans will have taken a draw.

Despite falling behind early in the second half, Albion kept plugging away and they got their just rewards when Vela slotted the ball home from close range three minutes from the end of normal time.

Without doubt Roy Hodgson and the fans will have been delighted with the desire and spirit the West Brom players showed yesterday. Heads could so easily have dropped after Stoke scored. But no Albion never gave up and this result will give the players a lot more confidence heading into the game against Birmingham.

Selection

I have to admit when I first heard the starting 11 for Albion, I was very concerned. Despite his woeful performance against Wolves, Marc-Antoine Fortune started up front as the lone striker. Abdoulaye Meite made his first start of the season and replaced Gabriel Tamas.

I was pleased by the fact that Steven Reid was drafted into the XI ahead of Gonzalo Jara. But the fact that Meite and Fortune were starting the game filled me with dread as to how many goals Stoke were going to put past us.

The first half was pretty much a non-event and the only meaningful chance came from Jermaine Pennant. The former Liverpool winger hit the top of the crossbar with a free-kick just before half-time.

Still, Albion will have taken 0-0 at half-time and to be fair they defended well from Rory Delap’s long throw-ins and kept John Carew and Kenwyne Jones quiet.

West Brom are always prone to conceding goals from set pieces and from a corner Stoke scored their goal. Scott Carson perhaps should have done better but then again the player who was supposed to be marking Delap should have done a better job.

One nil to Stoke and I just thought it was going to be one of those days where Albion played well but did not got anything out of the game.

Nonetheless West Brom kept knocking on the Stoke door and it was all Albion after Tony Pulis’ side scored.

Graham Dorrans had an excellent game and was unlucky not score. For me, Dorrans is now starting to rediscover his from the Championship last season and he is improving game by game.

I thought Fortune had a much better game and he could have scored as well. His looping header hit the top of the crossbar and with Albion missing chance after chance, it might have been a story of what if.

I also have to admit Meite had a very good game and never put a foot wrong. The Ivory Coast defender looked assured at the back and did a very good job.

On came Peter Odemwingie, Somen Tchoyi and Carlos Vela to try and get a result for the Baggies. This was certainly a signal of intent from Hodgson to get something from the game.

Up stepped Vela to score his second goal for Albion for the second game on the trot. The on-loan Arsenal striker did appear to be offside when Steven Reid chipped in a cross. But the linesman kept his flag down and Vela calmly slotted the ball past Begovic.

1-1 and that was not the end of it. West Brom had chances at the end to get all three points. Vela had two glorious chances but give credit where it is due. Begovic made two great saves from the Mexican denying him twice from point-blank range.

Tchoyi also had a chance to make it 2-1 to Albion but his effort was again well saved by the former Portsmouth stopper. However a draw at the Britannia was not a disastrous result for Albion and I’m certain most Baggies fans will have taken a draw.

West Brom showed a lot resilience last night and they will need to perform like they did against Stoke for the rest of the season. Plenty of encouraging signs from the game last night for Albion.

Blues

Next up for the Baggies are the 2011 Carling Cup winners Birmingham City. I just want to say many congratulations to the Blues and Alex McLeish’s side deserved their win on Sunday against Arsenal.

Confidence will be sky high at St. Andrews and come kick-off on Saturday; there will no doubt be a party atmosphere inside the stadium. Could this work in Albion’s favour? You never know.

The West Brom defence will have another tall striker to contend with this time its Nikola Zigic. The Serbian has without question been rejuvenated after his role in the 3-1 win over West Ham in the second leg of their Semi-Final. 

Albion will certainly have their work cut out to deal with him. But if they can deal with Carew and Jones then I don’t see why Albion can’t keep Zigic quiet.

I would seriously consider starting Vela for the game against Blues but who would you drop out. Fortune had a decent game against Stoke and Hodgson could be tempted to stick with the same side.

It will be interesting to see the starting XI Hodgson puts out against Birmingham and whether there are changes from the side that got a valuable point last night.

But overall a decent point for Albion against Stoke and plenty of encouraging signs for the fans and Hodgson to take from the game.

Keep The Faith and Up The Baggies!

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