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  • Championship Play Offs: West Brom And Southampton Share Stalemate In Semi Final First Leg

Championship Play-offs: West Brom and Southampton share stalemate in semi-final first leg

West Brom and Southampton played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at the Hawthorns.

Both teams had chances to win the game as Alex Palmer denied Flynn Downes when one-on-one while Alex McCarthy made an equally crucial save at the other end to keep out Grady Diangana’s header before the break.

The two goalkeepers also kept the game scoreless in the second period with McCarthy again denying Diangana while Palmer made a stunning reaction stop with his feet to turn substitute Ross Stewart’s effort to safety.

It leaves the tie wide open ahead of the second leg at St Mary’s Stadium on Friday as Southampton aim to return to the Premier League at the first attempt while the Baggies look to end their three-season hiatus from the top flight.

Saints spurned a glorious chance to take the lead after 20 minutes. Palmer kept out Downes’ shot when one-on-one after the midfielder exchanged passes with Joe Aribo down the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Southampton threatened again on the half-hour mark when Sekou Mara sent an overhead kick over the crossbar from 10 yards after West Brom failed to properly clear Will Smallbone’s corner from the left.

The home side’s best chance of the first half saw McCarthy make a save low down to deny Diangana at the back post after the Baggies forward rose highest to meet Darnell Furlong’s cross.

West Brom captain Kyle Bartley then made an excellent block to deflect Aribo’s shot away from goal after Downes drove with the ball to the edge of the penalty aera.

The home side almost broke the deadlock just past the hour mark when Michael Johnston delivered a cross from the left to the back post and Furlong poked a volley inches wide with McCarthy rooted to the spot.

Albion came forward again soon after as Saints defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis received a yellow card for a foul on Okay Yokuslu as he looked to burst into the box only for Alex Mowatt to send the resulting free-kick from 25-yards out over the bar.

The hosts’ best chance of the half once again fell to Diangana with McCarthy equal to the forward’s shot from 15 yards after a superb run and cutback down the right by Tom Fellows.

Saints broke immediately as substitute Stewart cut in from the left and saw his shot deflect off Bartley only for Palmer to readjust his body superbly and somehow keep the ball out with his feet.

West Brom saw a late penalty appeal following a challenge by Ryan Fraser on Diangana fall on deaf ears and neither side were able to find a winner in six minutes of added time.

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