Paul Boertiens second half equaliser ensured a share of the spoils for the Brewers at Bradford City. Albion were trailing to Gareth Evans first half strike and were second best for long periods of the game but they hung in when under pressure and extended their unbeaten run to four games at Valley Parade.
It was probably not one of Albions better performances so far this season but their durability and stubbornness in defence was evident as they battled hard at the scene of one of their most memorable matches in living memory, the 1995 FA Cup first round clash that finished 4-3 to the Bantams.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido opted to make just one change for the visit to Valley Parade. The Albion manager opted for a little more solidity on the left side of midfield where Jacques Maghoma was rewarded for an impressive showing in the reserves in midweek. The ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder came into the side at the expense of winger Jimmy Phillips. The game was also a landmark occasion for defender Paul Boertien with the ex-Rams man making his 200th appearance in the Football League.
Both Shane Redmond and Robin Shroot reported back from international duty without injury and so took their place on the substitutes bench. Richard Walker, after his goalscoring appearance from the bench last Saturday at Meadow Lane had to settle for a substitute role again.
It was Bradford who made the brighter start and after Michael Flynns mistimed shot had easily been claimed by Artur Krysiak it was Ryan Austin who kept the Brewers on level terms with a fine block to deny Gareth Evans a clean sight of goal.
The hosts continued to press and Krysiak was kept busy firstly by a free kick that deflected safely into his arms and then a snapshot from former Cambridge City winger Scott Neilson after Evans cross was allowed to find its way across the 18 yard line.
It was a nervous opening twenty minutes from Albion but they finally began to settle and look more comfortable without seriously threatening the Bradford goal. Just when it looked as though the Brewers were getting a foothold in the game Bradford took the lead. A routine ball into the Albion box seemed harmless enough but when John McGrath and Guy Branston got in each others way the ball fell invitingly for Gareth Evans to stroke the ball into the empty net.
Albion almost got themselves level in the 29th minute. Jacques Maghoma led a break out of defence and as the Bradford defence backed off the ball was worked into John McGrath whose shot from the edge of the box was deflected away for a corner by the outstretched foot of keeper Simon Eastwood.
As Albion sought an equaliser Bradford continued to look solid at the back and were happy to be patient and wait for their chances. Chris Brandon almost made it two on 42 minutes but his jinking run and shot ended with Krysiak watching the ball go wide of his post.
The Brewers were inches away from going in at the break on level terms. Shaun Harrads persistence on the edge of the box gave him a chance to shoot and when Eastwood palmed the ball away Greg Pearson looked certain to score until Lee Bullock threw himself in the way with a last ditch challenge to deny Albions leading scorer.
The managers half time response was to try and introduce more creativity on the wings and it was Andy Corbett who made way for Northern Ireland under-21 international Robin Shroot at the start of the second half.
Albion had to weather three quickfire corners in the early stages as Bradford looked to put the game to bed. The Brewers defence held firm with Krysiak punching clear from the third flag kick with Michael Flynn flighting the loose ball wide of the keepers right hand post.
Evans went close to a second for Bradford in the 55th minute. With Tony James injured just inside the Albion half the hosts looked to have exposed a depleted albion backline but with men on his outside in space, Evans went for goal himself and chipped over the bar.
Paul Peschisolido introduced Richard Walker and Marc Goodfellow for Greg Pearson and Jacques Maghoma but it still seemed that Bradford were the more likely side to score the next goal. Scott Neilson fired over after a superb move orchestrated by Evans and Guy Branston foiled Evans moments later.
The Bantams succumbed to the sucker punch moments later. Last weeks hero Walker looked to have spurned a chance when Harrads cross bounced off him. Bradford failed to clear and when Robin Shroot put the ball back into the box the former Bristol Rovers striker produced a lovely backheel that allowed Paul Boertien to fire home only the fourth league goal of his career.
Both sides went in search of a winner with Bradford continuing to cause Albions defence problems but the clearest chance fell to Shaun Harrad in the 80th minute as he fired Walkers cross over the crossbar.
Neither side wanted to settle for a point as the game flowed from end to end. Lee Bullocks shot caught Branston flush in the face and while the Albion skipper was down in his own penalty area the Brewers broke away and Robin Shroot almost played in Harrad.
Albion man of the match: Paul Boertien Albions defence were not at their best but the experienced left back produced a solid performance on his 200th league appearance. Capped off his performance with a rare but valuable goal.