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Ajayi’s West Bromwich Albion keep promotion bid on target despite Fulham draw

Sporting News logo Sporting News 14/07/2020 Shina Oludare

Semi Ajayi’s West Bromwich Albion are inching closer to a return to the Premier League despite their 0-0 draw with Fulham on Tuesday.

Scott Parker’s men went into the game in dire need of a win at the Hawthorns to stay in contention for a top-two finish, but they could only muster a point against the Baggies.

After missing Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers, Egypt international Ahmed Hegazi returned to Slaven Bilic’s starting XI, while Grady Diangana replaced Kyle Bartley.

Fulham had the first chance after 21 minutes with Ivan Cavaleiro going close, however, his back-post header from Anthony Knockaert’s cross was cleared off the line by Hegazi.

Just like the opening 45 minutes, the second-half started on a fast note. The Baggies had a brief scare in the 50th minute but Ajayi was forced to clear a goal-bound Aleksandar Mitrovic header.

Albion were close to taking the lead after Dara O'Shea found Diangana, but the midfielder saw his shot deflected painfully wide of the right upright.

Ajayi missed a beautiful chance to give his team the lead after heading over the crossbar Matheus Pereira’s corner kick.

Just like Egypt’s Hegazi, Super Eagles regular Ajayi was on parade from start to finish, while DR Congo's Neeskens Kebano came in for Ivan Cavaleiro but was unable to help the Cottagers get the much-needed victory.

Fulham will now face Sheffield Wednesday and a red-hot Wigan Athletic side who smashed Hull City 8-0 but are potentially facing a 12-point deduction for entering administration.

Victory over Huddersfield Town and Queens Park Rangers will see West Brom return to the English top-flight after a two-year absence.

Since their 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers, manager Bilic has remained positive about his team’s promotion chances to the English top-flight.

“If anything we should be more confident after the Blackburn game then before it – and I told the players that in the dressing room,” he told the club website.

“Yes, we were angry and disappointed about the result. But only the result. We are playing good, really good – we are scoring goals, making chances, being compact, being intense.

“I said after the Derby game that I would have felt the same about the performance if we had not scored their second goal and the match had finished 1-1. That can happen in football.”

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