Suddenly it is easy to feel rather more upbeat about the way Albion’s season is going.

A remarkable ten days or so has brightened the outlook considerably in terms both of putting points on the board and fans in the stands.

This draw against the champions, secured by a debated VAR penalty which Pascal Gross sent straight down the middle, is part of that process.

That is now four points from a pair of fixtures in which the opposition kicked off with a chance of going top of the Premier League.

Aston Villa were denied that pleasure and, while Liverpool did indeed leave the Amex temporarily in first place, they did not get there in the manner they would have wanted.

If the behind-closed-doors era at the Amex is over for good (and that is still an ‘if’), it ended on a high.

The next time the players walk out on home turf, some of the seats they see in front of them and away to their left will be occupied.

Not many and, of course, it still means the vast majority of season ticket holders will be following remotely.

But every epic journey needs a first step and this one has come a lot sooner than had looked like being the case until recently.

By contrast, good results on the pitch have seemed tantalisingly close all season.

Too many have slipped from their grasp – just as it seemed a first Prem point against Liverpool was about to escape on Saturday.

That changed well into injury time when Stuart Attwell was invited by Kevin Friend to review contact between Andy Robertson and Danny Welbeck which many of us had missed.

With Neal Maupay having put an earlier spot kick wide and then departed with a hamstring injury, Gross stepped up for the subsequent penalty.

Alisson dived to the bottom corner Gross found in the pre-season friendly against Chelsea and the ball went past his feet.

One suspects no one at Albion is working any harder now than they have done all season, be it in terms of bringing in points or being ready for spectators to return.

But the due rewards have started to come.

Head coach Graham Potter said: “As I’ve said before many times, the result you can’t necessarily control. That is why we love the game so much.

“I thought the performance was really good.

“We spoke before the game about our intent in the game and type of game we wanted to see. I thought we saw that.

“We wanted to be positive. I don’t think it is so easy to do against Liverpool.

“The way the world is, because they lost in the week, everybody thinks they are suffering.

“If you saw them play against Leicester a week ago, they were so dominant.

“They have still got in the second half Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Jota and Bobby Firmino and they are quite good players, as I understand it.

“We missed a penalty and we were one versus one with the keeper.

“I didn’t think Liverpool had too many chances.

“We didn’t have loads but we had enough to score and I think in the end, with the performance, we deserved something from the game.”

Potter was answering a question from The Argus as to whether this had actually been a great chance to beat Liverpool.

It was asked knowing it could possibly be seen as an overly-critical view of a positive day.

Especially in the warm after-match glow provided by a late equaliser.

But it was based on the way Albion, after a tricky start, created two chances to go ahead which really had to be taken.

One was placed wide by the otherwise impressive Arron Connolly when Maupay played him through and the other was the penalty, after Neco Williams fouled Connolly.

Liverpool’s makeshift backline were fragile in the first half but they had the resources, specifically skipper Jordan Henderson as sub, to rectify matters at half-time.

Mo Salah, who had a first-half goal disallowed by a narrow VAR offside call, was involved in what for a long time looked like being the winning goal on the hour.


Diogo Jota took up the play, stepped inside Ben White and away from Adam Webster before cutting his low shot back past Maty Ryan’s dive.

Salah did not get his customary goal against the Seagulls but Sadio Mane thought he had opened his account against them with a header from a free-kick.

This one, too, was called offside by VAR – when maybe the official on site should have spotted it.

Potter said: “It was like the good news is Salah is coming off, bad news is Mane is coming on!

“But that’s the Premier League. That’s what happens when you play the top teams.

"They made a sub at half-time because they know the game is a tough game and they bring Jordan Henderson on.

“That’s an indication of how well we did in the first half. Then they bring Mane on as well.

“Against the top Premier League teams, they’ve got some fantastic starting players and some fantastic subs.

“Credit to my players, I felt they restricted them to not too much when you consider the firepower they have on the pitch.”

They also had the energy and belief for a big finish.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh really should have headed in when Solly March delivered the best cross of the match.

Jahanbakhsh saw a shot deflect wide soon after the equaliser and the final act was a Webster header over the bar from a corner.

Albion’s first match in an empty stadium ended in a win so maybe the first with fans returning can be marked the same way.

For now, four points from the last two games and a week of preparing to look after people in the stands are reasons to put a spring in the step.

Albion: Ryan; White, Dunk, Webster; Veltman, Gross, Bissouma, March; Maupay (Trossard 25), Welbeck, Connolly (Lallana 63, Jahanbakhsh 71).

Subs Not Used: Steele, Burn, Alzate, Molumby.

Booked: Veltman, White.

Goal: Gross 90+3 pen.

Liverpool: Alisson; Neco Williams (Henderson 46), Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Minamino, Wijnaldum, Milner (Jones 74); Salah (Mane 64), Firmino, Jota. Subs Not Used: Adrian, Tsimikas, Rhys Williams, Origi.

Booked: Alisson.

Goal: Jota 60.

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).