Last Updated: 25/11/13 10:02pm
A thoroughly entertaining derby ends all-square, as Villa recover from two-down to earn a point. Thanks for following the game with me this evening. Stay here for report, reaction and much more from The Hawthorns.
West Brom aren't content to settle for a point. Amalfitano, though, wastes possession in an advanced position on the right.
Benteke does brilliantly to flick the ball into Weimann's path but, instead of driving towards the edge of the box, the Villa substitute opts to shoot from close to 30 yards and blasts way off target.
West Brom are rattled and Villa smell blood. The hosts are forced into the passing the ball back through the lines before Myhill eventually hooks his long clearance straight out of play. Agbonlahor then wins a header on the edge of the box to put in Benteke, but the Villa striker was stood offside.
Popov's poor headed clearance is pounced upon by Westwood, who uses a neat first touch to create enough space to unleash an unstoppable, arcing drive from outside the box. A wonderful strike and Villa are level.
Long ignores the overlapping Brunt to instead drive a shot from the corner of the box straight into the grasp of Guzan. Brunt is furious and he probably has good reason to be.
The Villa fans are back in fine voice once more, declaring themselves 'the pride of Birmingham'. They have 20 minutes to get themselves level with West Brom and a throw-in in line with the edge of the box. Benteke, though, gifts the ball back to Albion.
Weimann headed Bacuna's cross into the path of El Ahmadi, who volleyed past Myhill from close range. Game on!
Benteke wins the second ball after his own header on but his volley from the edge of the box bounces harmlessly into the arms of Myhill.
Villa, though, switch off again and allow Amalfitano to drift into their box from the left. His pull-back finds Sessegnon, but the forward is careless with his finish, which drifts over from close range.
Villa, as you might expect after the changes, are enjoying a spell of pressure, but the West Brom back four are standing firm on the edge of their box.
Immediate contributions from the replacements. Agbonlahor combines with Benteke to create a shooting chance for Weimann, but his shot is blocked by the legs of Myhill, who only just managed to divert the ball around the post. From the corner, Delph is teed-up on the edge of the box, but the midfielder shanks his shot and Albion clear.
Mulumbu is booked for tripping Tonev near the halfway line. The Villa striker had beaten Mulumbu, but the West Brom enforcer dangled out a leg and halted the Bulgarian's progress.
Long retrieves what looked to be a lost cause and the West Brom striker manages to play the ball across goal but none of his team-mates could keep up. Villa comfortably clear.
Bacuna has the opportunity to cross from the right but his delivery is awful. Mulumbu intercepts on the edge of the box, but he instantly gives the ball away. We've seen a scrappy opening to the second half.
Delph is getting some instructions on the Villa bench but his tracksuit remains on. A scrappy period of play sees the ball go from end to end, missing out the midfield, but with little quality from either side.
Villa go straight on the attack but Baker's shot on the bounce from the edge of the box loops high and wide.
Villa fan Jak Batty hasn't given up: 'Yes there is a way for Villa to come back. Keep passing, tire them out, then bring on Gabby and Weimann for speed and attack. UTV!' Peter, the Baggie in Devon, is wary of the Villa bench, but West Brom have plenty in reserve too: 'On course for the 3-1 I suggested. Have to watch the substitutions don't bring Villa back into it. Perhaps bring on Morrison and Berahino later. Come on you Baggies.'
Jamie Carragher on MNF just compared Long's first goal to Bergkamp's stunning winner for Holland against Argentina at World Cup '98. Long displayed great balance as he pulled the ball down because he had to lean back to able to watch the ball come over his head before it landed on his laces.
As Chris St John tweeted: '@Shanelong009 in this type of form is simply unplayable. #Top4playeronhisday'
Shane Long has made the difference at The Hawthorns with two fantastic goals. The first especially - a Bergkamp-esque first touch on the edge of the box before a ruthless finish. The second finish, a perfectly-weighted dink after a skillful step-over, was more subtle but of equal quality. Is there any way back for Villa?
Mulumbu shows great determination to power through three challenges, at least two of which were fouls. West Brom are awarded a free-kick, but that moment summed up the midfield supremacy West Brom have enjoyed.
With half-time approaching, Lambert may be thinking about changes. Andy Lunn has a few suggestions for the Villa boss: 'Only one way Lambert can save this - bring El Ahmedi, Westwood and Kozak off and put Lowton, Delph and Agbonlahor on. Push Bacuna to wide right and Lowton to right back. Delph is obvious to shore up what Lambert calls a midfield and Gabby to use his pace up front with Benteke. And yes Kozak is as bad as Balaban was.'
Benteke plays Tonev into space on the left, but his weak shot is easily gathered again by Myhill, who steps across before dropping on to one knee to scoop in.
Benteke wins a free-kick on the centre-spot after more pressure from Albion. El Ahmadi sends it towards the West Brom box, but the hosts stand firm and clear. El Ahmadi and Amalfitano then exchange a few unpleasantries before play restarts.
Mike Lambeth has been back in touch to follow up on his confident pre-match prediction: 'Hi again Ian. Baggies 3-0 looking good. Maybe 4 or 5 nil.'
Benteke has another go, this time from just outside the box, but his curling effort is blocked by team-mate El Ahmadi. Not Benteke's night so far.
Clark wins a free-kick on the Villa left. Westwood tries to steal 10 yards infield but is told to retreat to the touchline. The delivery is met by McAuley but his header lands invitingly for Benteke. The Belgian, though, scuffs his volley and West Brom escape.
Long does get his shot away this time - a 20-yard drive after a burst from the halfway line - but Guzan's chest gets in the way and Sessegnon is offside as he chases the rebound. Long looks unplayable tonight.
Only a brilliant recovery from Vlaar denies Long a great chance for his hat-trick. Amalfitano's quarter-back pass picks out the West Brom goalscorer, but Vlaar turns and gets across in time before Long was able to pull the trigger.
Villa deal with a couple of inswinging West Brom corners. First, Brunt's delivery from the right is touched behind by Guzan, before Baker heads clear Amalfitano's set-piece.
Kozak hits the bar for Villa! He and Benteke combine for the first time, with Benteke's flick-on being expertly pulled down by the former Lazio striker, who then sees his half-volley clip the top of the bar with Myhill beaten. Better from Villa.
Guzan again comes from his line to smother Brunt's through ball which Sessegnon was chasing. Vlaar did well to usher the ball back to his keeper.
Sylla is lucky to escape a yellow card when he fouls Sessegnon. Guzan again comes from his line to claim the set piece under heavy pressure from Olsson. Good goalkeeping from the Villa stopper.
Villa completely switch off on their left, allowing Albion to slide a simple set-piece down the flank for Amalfitano. He picks out the unmarked Sessegnon in the six-yard box but the former Sunderland man scuffs his volley and wastes a wonderful opportunity. Villa should be 3-0 down.
Jacob gives the ball straight to Westwood before Mulumbu has to give away a foul. We have come to expect better from the Baggies midfield screener.
Two shaky moments for Jacob: first, he gives the ball away sloppily in his own half, before he hesitates when clearing the cross which followed. Albion eventually clear.
Mulumbu escapes down the West Brom right but his cross is just ahead of Sessegnon. Albion by far the most effective of the two sides in the opposition half.
Westwood creates a yard of space, 30 yards from goal, but he's leaning back as he attempts a shot which drifts way over the West Brom bar. Another poor effort.
Bacuna is badly at fault after his misplaced pass across his box is pounced upon by Long. The Republic of Ireland striker uses a step-over to beat Baker again before dinking a delightful finish over Guzan.
Tonev concludes a period of Villa possession by shooting straight at Myhill from the left corner of the West Brom penalty area. A weak effort.
West Brom win a free-kick 15 yards inside the Villa half on the right touchline. Brunt delivers into the box but Guzan comes out to the penalty spot to collect at the second attempt.
Villa look for an immediate response as Tonev lets fly from 25 yards. His shot takes a deflection off McAuley's head but Myhill readjusts and dives to his right to parry away. West Brom clear the corner.
Brunt launches a pass towards the edge of the Villa box, which is pulled out of the air brilliantly by Long. The West Brom striker takes another touch inside Baker before unleashing an unstoppable low left-footed drive past Guzan.
West Brom share the ball around to get an early touch before Olsson's forward pass towards Long drifts straight through to Guzan.
A minute's applause has taken place for the former Albion stalwart and Villa have gone straight into their huddle. Albion, meanwhile, are removing their tracksuit jackets. The hosts will get us underway.
The players and officials are gathering around the centre circle to pay their respects to former West Brom and Wales defender Stewart Williams who passed away recently.
Faithless provides the backing music as the two sides emerge from the tunnel. Kick-off is moments away...
Not everyone is happy, it would seem. Villan Andy Lunn is not best pleased with the manager and even less impressed with one of his strikers: ' I cant believe that Villa line up. Did the result and performance against Cardiff go completely unnoticed by Lambert? Villa were much better when Lowton came on and Bacuna was pushed into midfield. And if Weimann and Agbonlahor and Delph are fit why are they on the bench when Kozak has to be the worst striker I have seen in a Villa shirt for some time. No ball control, no skill, no pace. Villa need some body to break up the Albion midfield and neither Westwood or El Ahmedi are good enough. Albion are gonna rip us apart tonight. Thank you Lambert, you donkey!!!' Is Kozak worse than Bosko Balaban, Andy?!
If you fancy a flutter this evening, here is the latest from our friends at Sky Bet: 'Both teams have scored in eight of the previous 10 meetings between the sides and that's 8/11 to come in with Sky Bet once more, with just one goal separating the sides in the table. A scoreline of 2-1 is commonplace when the pair meet and it's a 15/2 chance to go that way in West Brom's favour, while an exact reverse for the visitors is 10/1. Meanwhile, Monday Night Football has been entertaining so far this season, with the five games producing 18 goals, an average of over 3.5 goals per game - a 5/2 chance in this one.'
Gareth Maver has highlighted one of the major battles to watch out for: 'An interesting one in the air with Benteke-Kozak against McAuley-Olsson. I back an unmarked Vlaar to smash one home #UTV'
Mike Lambeth has great faith in the Baggies. Well, most of them... 'Tonight's match, no contest. Baggies 3 Villa 0. Steve Clarke is a much better manager but I sure wish that he would cut Nicolas Anelka loose. We do not need him and his baggage.'
We have a few high-scoring predictions, which I hope are right. Villa, though, have the best defensive away record in the Premier League so West Brom will have to be at their creative best to break down the visitors. That said, with Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Brunt and Long in the starting XI and Berahino, Vydra, Anelka and Anichebe on the bench, Steve Clarke has plenty of attacking options. Don't forget, they put two past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last time out and were only denied a famous victory by a very dubious late penalty decision.
Peter is a Baggie in Devon and he's in optimistic mood; 'West Brom to win 3-1. Massive game for both clubs. We may need Anelka and Berahino to come into the attack second half. Come on you Baggies!'
Another Villa fan, Malcolm, would be happy with a point: 'I think this will be a close match and think a 2-2 draw the most likely outcome. If one side comes out on top they will only win by a single goal and the key might be Bacuna with one of his scintillating free-kicks. However, Villa do have a very strong bench with the likes of Agbonlahar, Delph and Lowton. But I will take a point but a win for Villa would of course be the best outcome!'
Villa fan Jamie Bayliss is a little more content with his side's attacking options and he's feeling confident. Jamie tweeted me to say: 'Christian Benteke could destroy the Baggies tonight, 3-1 Villa #UTV'
The West Brom XI hasn't gone down well with Calvin, who emailed to ask: 'What is up with Clarke, why can't he start Berahino? The kid scores regular!'
Christian Benteke has recovered the knee injury he sustained on international duty and he leads the Villa attack. The visitors' bench is also strong, with Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor fit again to remain in reserve among Paul Lambert's substitutes. Could they make an impact late on?
The two derby rivals could hardly be more evenly matched ahead of tonight's clash. Who do you see coming out on top? I want your thoughts, predictions and opinions ahead of kick-off and throughout the night. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter: @IanWatson1
The two benches: WBA: Luke Daniels, Morrison, Berahino, Dawson, Vydra, Anelka, Anichebe; Villa: Steer, Weimann, Herd, Bowery, Lowton, Delph, Agbonlahor.
West Brom: Myhill, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Popov, Mulumbu, Yacob, Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Brunt, Long.
Less than four miles and a single Premier League place separate the two sides, with West Brom above 12th-placed Villa on goal difference. At stake at The Hawthorns is a place in the top half of the Premier League table.