West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League status remains suspended by a thread after this draw in the Black Country derby left them 10 points adrift of safety with only four games left.
Relegation has looked inevitable for some time for Sam Allardyce’s team and Mbaye Diagne’s second-half equaliser – which cancelled out Fabio Silva’s lucky strike for Wolves in the final minute of the first half – was not enough to alter their prospects.
By the time Albion face Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, they may be already consigned to the Championship. The only sides they can catch – Newcastle, Brighton and Southampton – all play before that fixture.
Fabio Silva opened the scoring for Wolves in first-half stoppage time with a deflected shot which looped over Sam Johnstone
West Bromwich Albion began with three at the back but took Dara O’Shea off after half an hour and switched to a back four
Teenage striker Silva (centre) came in for Willian Jose up front and gave a confident, mature performance for the visiting side
Mike Dean (pictured) began the game as fourth official but replaced referee Paul Tierney at half-time due to a calf injury
Wolves simply want the season to end and they could not even cheer their fans with a win over their most bitter rivals, though both sides deserve credit for producing an honest, hard-fought contest despite heavy rain throughout.
There was also an unexpected appearance for Mike Dean, who was originally fourth official but refereed the second half due to an injury to Paul Tierney.
After last weekend’s embarrassing 4-0 home defeat to Burnley, Wolves switched to a back four and made three changes, with senior players Willy Boly and Daniel Podence two of those left out.
Albion kept faith with 10 of the 11 who started the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa and created the first chance of the match when Darnell Furlong volleyed wide. Thereafter, the pattern was set.
Wolves defender Romain Saiss (centre, 27) positioned himself superbly to flick a header from Mbaye Diagne off the goal-line
West Bromwich Albion midfielder Conor Gallagher (18) should have scored from close range but shot straight at Rui Patricio
Wolves probed and Albion resisted, waiting for the moment to counter. The visitors struggled to test Sam Johnstone regularly in the early stages, with his simple save from Romain Saiss’ 12th-minute header a rare moment of activity.
When Johnstone was challenged, he was up to the task. Nelson Semedo robbed Semi Ajayi inside the box and Johnstone did well to push over the rising left-foot drive. Seconds later, he pawed Vitinha’s 30-yard drive behind.
Wolves were indebted to Saiss for keeping them level shortly before half-time as the Moroccan produced a goal-line clearance to keep out Ajayi, who had headed Conor Gallagher’s cross beyond Rui Patricio. Moments later, Allardyce abandoned the back three and replaced Dara O’Shea with Matt Phillips.
West Brom’s luck was out, and they suffered more ill fortune in first-half stoppage time to fall behind. Youngsters Owen Otasowie and Vitinha combined nicely to release Semedo, whose square pass was cleared by Kyle Bartley against the standing foot of Silva, leaving Johnstone helpless as the ball looped over him.
Senegalese striker Diagne (second right) equalised just after the hour with a powerful header from Conor Townsend’s cross
But the Baggies boss Sam Allardyce was left disappointed as his side could not force a late winner and the game finished 1-1
A new referee, Mike Dean stepping in for the injured Paul Tierney, heralded a far better second half. Allardyce now had no option but to release the handbrake and his players responded positively.
Rui Patricio made a smart stop to deny Conor Townsend from 15 yards and then produced an even better one to keep out Gallagher, who should have buried substitute Matt Phillips’ low cross at the far post. At the other end, Silva’s low 25-yarder was well stopped by Johnstone on the hour and two minutes later the home side equalised.
Phillips fed Townsend on the left, who was given far too much time to judge his cross. The delivery was precise and a grateful Diagne headed it past Patricio from close range. Wolves tried to regain the lead immediately only for Johnstone to show excellent reflexes again by pushing wide Silva’s deflected strike.
With puddles appearing on the pitch as the match wore on, there was always the danger of a mistake leading to a goal but both sides held on for a point.
Scroll down to see how the action unfolded minute-by-minute via Sportsmail‘s live blog.