Mickel Miller shields the ball


West Bromwich Albion 0

Argyle 0

Argyle returned from the international break with an excellent display to earn a richly deserved point at West Bromwich Albion.

Chances were at a premium all afternoon, the Pilgrims were outstanding at the back and almost nicked all three points in a strong end to the game.

Argyle manager Steven Schumacher made six changes from the side beaten by Swansea a fortnight ago, with Michael Cooper back between the sticks after eight months out through injury. Mickel Miller, Lewis Gibson, Finn Azaz, Adam Randell and Kaine Kesler-Hayden also returned.

In a sprightly start at the Hawthorns, Alex Mowatt picked up a fraction of space for the hosts but his shot was deflected wide and, in a theme that would last the full 90 minutes, Argyle calmly dealt with the subsequent corner.

A thrust down the right from Kesler-Hayden kept the Baggies honest at the back before Ryan Hardie burst through in the right channel and his well-struck effort was held by former Pilgrim stopper Alex Palmer.

Azaz then picked up what would become the first of seven yellow cards for the Pilgrims, a strange total in a game that wasn’t nasty in any way. Bali Mumba was next on defensive duty, reading the intentions of a darting Grady Diangana to prevent a shot on goal.

In a first half bereft of real chances, Mumba and Morgan Whittaker attempted to bustle their way through the West Brom backline but the door was locked, while Cooper was serenely quiet in his return to first-team action.

The pattern remained similar after the break, Diangana had a shot deflected wide before Kesler-Hayden expertly thwarted a rampaging run from Jed Wallace, as both sides struggled to create a serious opening.

West Brom produced their first serious spell of pressure around the hour but, again, the clear chances proved elusive, and the Greens freshened up their attacking options with the introduction of Mustapha Bundu for Hardie, swiftly followed by Luke Cundle coming on for Jordan Houghton.

Bundu, who has looked lively emerging from the bench on a few occasions this season, found some room out wide and cut inside for a delicious curling effort that forced Palmer into the best save of the afternoon, tipping it wide at full stretch.

Azaz then crossed for the dangerous Bundu to force another corner, with the Greens looking the more likely team to pinch a late winner. Unfortunately, this was a day when the net refused to bulge.

Matt Butcher was a late replacement for Mumba and the deserved clean sheet was particularly pleasing for Cooper, who has endured a long road to recovery.

A solid point for Argyle, who turn their attention to the visit of Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.

West Bromwich Albion: 24 Alex Palmer; 2 Darnell Furlong, 4 Cedric Kipre, 5 Kyle Bartley (6 Semi Ajayi 78), 7 Jed Wallace, 10 Matty Phillips, 11 Grady Diangana (31 Tom Fellowes 78), 14 Nathaniel Chalobah (8 Jayson Molumby 66), 15 Erik Pieters (3 Conor Townsend 59), 21 Brandon Thomas-Assante, 27 Alex Mowatt (35 Okay Yokuslu 78). Substitutes (not used): 33 Josh Griffiths (gk), 26 Pipa, 36 Caleb Taylor, 38 Akeel Higgins.

Booked: Mowatt 35, Bartley 77

Argyle: 1 Michael Cooper; 2 Bali Mumba (7 Matt Butcher 88), 4 Jordan Houghton (capt) (28 Luke Cundle 66), 6 Dan Scarr, 9 Ryan Hardie (15 Mustapha Bundu 66), 10 Morgan Whittaker, 14 Mickel Miller, 17 Lewis Gibson, 18 Finn Azaz, 20 Adam Randell, 29 Kaine Kesler-Hayden. Substitutes (not used): 21 Conor Hazard (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillepshey, 5 Julio Pleguezuelo, 8 Joe Edwards, 16 Lewis Warrington, 23 Ben Waine. 

Booked: Azaz 27, Houghton 42, Scarr 50, Miller 55, Mumba 84, Cooper 85, Kesler-Hayden 86

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 24,736 (1,985 away)