Cardiff 1-1 West Brom: Visitors suffer blow in play-off chase
West Brom’s bid to boost their Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes was dented in a 1-1 draw at lowly Cardiff.
Daryl Dike celebrated his return to the United States squad with a composed 17th-minute finish that gave Albion optimism they could end a run of five straight away defeats with a win.
But Cardiff underlined their improvement under Sabri Lamouchi, their third manager of the season, when substitute Sory Kaba headed an equaliser 25 minutes from time.
The result left West Brom in eighth and five points adrift of Millwall in the final play-off spot, with 21st-placed Cardiff four points above the relegation zone.
Albion might have been ahead inside two minutes when on-loan Leicester wideman Marc Albrighton delivered a cross of genuine Premier League quality.
The ball was just inches too high for the unmarked Dike as Cardiff breathed an early sigh of relief.
Sheyi Ojo and Jaden Philogene were wide of mark as the Bluebirds stirred, but West Brom soon hit the front.
Jed Wallace was allowed space on the right to pick a cross that Dike volleyed home smartly at the near post, just hours after he had been called into the USA’s CONCACAF Nations League squad.
The omens were bad for a Cardiff side who had not recovered from a goal down to win a game for 11 months.
But Cardiff were almost level five minutes later when Callum O’Dowda’s shot deflected off Dara O’Shea and flew across the penalty area.
Isaak Davies was waiting at the far post, but the striker had to stretch for the ball and was unable to test Josh Griffiths in the visitors’ goal.
John Swift passed up an opportunity to double the visitors’ lead as he floated a free-kick from a promising position over the Cardiff crossbar.
The half ended with O’Shea in the right place to head over Ryan Wintle’s powerful drive and West Brom started the second half in lively fashion.
Okay Yokuslu and Jayson Molumby combined for Wallace to force Ryan Allsop into a spectacular stop.
Adam Reach replaced Dike just before the hour mark and he immediately headed over.
Cardiff equalised after 65 minutes as substitute Kaba, sent on at half-time for Davies, met Wintle’s cross with enough power to beat Griffiths.
The Albion goalkeeper got a hand to it, but the ball trickled over line for the Guinea striker’s third goal since his January deadline-day move from Danish club Midtjylland.
Albion replied instantly with a Swift effort from distance that Allsop pushed back in to the path of Reach, who finished well but was clearly in an offside position.
Philogene saw an effort well saved and Wallace toed a shot wide at the other end as both sides failed to find a winner that would have meant so much.