Leicester 1 Albion 1
Tony Mowbray doesn’t strike you as one football’s ‘glass half empty’ men.
But after leaving the Walkers Stadium following a rumbustious contest against Leicester, the West Bromwich Albion manager was hardly in the mood to celebrate, even though his side had gone top of the Championship.
Two points had been dropped in his eyes following the 1-1 stalemate against an improving Leicester side, which was not helped by the performance of the referee — the annoying Uriah Rennie.
The South Yorkshire official is not one to divide opinion: everyone thinks he’s bad.
And, lo it came to pass that this was the case as Mowbray erupted like a volcano at the end of the match, spewing verbal molten lava and ash at Rennie, following another indigestible display.
Mowbray’s gripe was that Rennie had allowed his side to be kicked to pieces without taking the necessary action to stamp it out. That, consequently, denied Albion the chance to play their style of football as too many of them were constantly left eating turf, with little or no reprisal leaving Mowbray a little hot under the collar.
"I don’t talk about referees very often. All I ask for is some protection for my team," said Mowbray. "We try to entertain and try to play the right way. I don’t have a problem with the way Leicester play but I just don’t think we got enough protection out there.
"It felt as if there were a thousand fouls out there. The game was not allowed to flow. I don’t mind fouls but sometimes you’ve got to take action against those who are repeatedly fouling so they stop doing it.
"I think Mr Rennie was trying to let the game flow too much but he was damaging his own performance."
If that wasn’t bad enough, Rennie arguably ducked out of the most decisive issue of the day and that was to send off former Albion striker Geoff Horsfield, five minutes from half time, for lashing out at Paul McShane as the pair battled for possession.
It was visible from the dug-outs, it was visible from the stands and yet the assistant referee, yards from the incident, and Rennie saw nothing ill in Horsfield’s actions, with Leicester the beneficiary of a free kick when play recommenced.
"I saw what I saw but the officials didn’t see it," said Mowbray. "I’m not questioning the integrity of the officials but you would hope that somewhere between the four of them they would get something right.
"I don’t want people sent off. Geoff Horsfield’s a good honest footballer but I saw what I saw."
Thankfully for Albion there was no debating the penalty, won by Diomansy Kamara and subsequently converted by the Senegal international for his 21st goal of the campaign, midway through the first half.
It came in the midst of Albion’s best spell with Kevin Phillips and Robert Koren both denied in quick succession by the alertness of Foxes keeper Paul Henderson, prior to taking the lead.
But Albion were not steamrollering Leicester, whose recent improvement was tangible as they more than stretched Albion at times and it not entirely surprising that the Foxes clawed their way back into the match just eight minutes after falling behind, Gareth McAuley’s looping header from Patrick Kisnorbo’s free kick leaving Albion’s Dean Kiely stranded.
Albion were being severely handicapped by Leicester’s tactics, but there also appeared little urgency from Mowbray’s men until second half stoppage time. The fact Albion only conjured two attempts on goal in the second half told its own story.
They were fortunate that Leicester lacked any real punch when they came in front of goal as they could easily have been trailing had Stephen Hughes’s aim been better as he wasted two good chances to put Leicester in front during a purple patch after the break.
As it was, Albion survived and finally found some thrust in those final minutes but it wasn’t enough and why Mowbray’s reflected that this was two points dropped, given the fact both Derby and Birmingham City, who both have games in hand over Albion, lost.
And given that just four points separate Albion and eighth-placed Wolves, now is not the time to let points slip from the grasp.
"My overriding emotion is disappointment at dropping two points," said Mowbray, dismissing Albion’s rise to the top. "I think we warranted the three points. The bottom line is we played against a team who were very competitive and it was probably a game we would have struggled in before the New Year.
"But being top with 11 games to go doesn’t matter. It only counts at the end of the season. If we continue to win at home and pick up points away we won’t be too far away."
Scorers: Kamara (27 pen), McCauley (35).
LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2): Henderson; Maybury, McAuley, Kisnorbo, Johansson; Hughes (Yeates 75), Jarrett, Johnson, Porter; Hume, Horsfield. Substitutes: Logan, Hammond, Stearman, Kenton.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-4-2): Kiely; McShane, Robinson, Curtis, Clement; Koren, Chaplow, Greening, Koumas (Gera 64); Kamara, Phillips (Ellington 64). Substitutes: Daniels, Albrechtsen, Carter.
Referee: U Rennie (South Yorkshire)
Bookings: Johannson (foul) - Albion. Chaplow (foul), Robinson (dissent) - Albion.