Point enough to propel West Brom to first place in Championship


The Baggies moved back to the top of the table despite drawing with Birmingham.

West Brom returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship despite being held to a goalless draw by Birmingham.

The Baggies drew a blank as they made their comeback after the three-month enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They moved above Leeds on goal difference but will see it as a chance missed after dominating their local rivals at an empty Hawthorns.

Matheus Pereira fired wide in the closest Albion came but they failed to score for a third straight league game.

Title rivals Leeds travel to Cardiff on Sunday and will retake top spot if they avoid defeat in Wales.

Albion still moved seven points clear of third-placed Fulham, who lost to Brentford, in the race for automatic promotion with eight games left.

Birmingham remain 16th after a gritty point in their first game back with boss Pep Clotet having announced last week he will leave at the end of the season.

They were on the back foot for much of the game and Jake Clarke-Salter’s excellent block on Matt Phillips denied Albion early.

The hosts dictated the play but failed to stretch Birmingham – who named eight academy prospects on the bench – enough to make a first-half breakthrough.

The steely visitors were organised at the back but one-dimensional going forward as highly-rated Jude Bellingham struggled to impose himself.

Callum Robinson headed wide at the far post five minutes before the break in a rare opening of a largely forgettable first half.

Albion tried to up the tempo after the break and Phillips saw a volley deflect over before Hal Robson-Kanu just missed Pereira’s cross.

Winger Pereira will now complete a GBP 8.25million move from Sporting Lisbon after playing in his 30th game for the Baggies, triggering a clause to make his loan permanent.

His influence began to grow and Pereira drilled just wide after 67 minutes having already seen a free-kick blocked by the wall.

Ultimately, Albion could not find a way through and it was Birmingham who wasted the best chance of the game with six minutes left when Scott Hogan planted a header straight at Sam Johnstone.