Jed Steer spent half this season on loan at League One Charlton but at the Hawthorns he became the man to send Aston Villa within 90 minutes of the Premier League.
Dean Smith recalled Steer in January and the goalkeeper stepped up in this shootout, saving penalties from Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazi so that Tammy Abraham could slide the winning spot-kick past Sam Johnstone.
Johnstone got a touch, but it was an agonising one and the 2,000 Villa fans clambered over each other in celebration. Twelve months on from defeat to Fulham they will have another crack at returning to the top-flight in the match of ultimate jeopardy.
WEST BROM (3-4-3):
Johnstone; Dawson, Bartley, Hegazi; Holgate Gibbs, Johansen (Morrison 71), Brunt; Murphy (Adarabioyo 92), Rodriguez (Leko 93), Phillips (Harper 75).
Townsend, Montero, Bond.
ASTON VILLA (4-3-3):
Steer; Elmohamady (Davis 114), Tuanzebe (Jedinak 120), Mings, Taylor; McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish; Green (Adomah 75), Abraham, El Ghazi (Kodjia 101).
Whelan, Kalinic, Hause.
Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire)
West Bromwich Albion were unfortunate having given a gutsy display. They were the better team but were undone by Chris Brunt's red card in the 80th minute. They lost their impetus and sunk back, with Jimmy Shan sending on defenders to maintain the 1-0 lead. It meant West Brom's options in the shootout were limited. They must now consider a summer rebuilding job.
It was a climactic end to a wild night. With Villa taking in a 2-1 lead a few dozen home fans had decided to try to influence matters themselves ahead of kick-off, waiting for the Villa bus and creating a gauntlet for Smith and his players to walk through.
There were flares and chants and, unsurprisingly, the loudest boos were reserved for Jack Grealish, who won the penalty that gave Villa the edge coming here. But given Grealish got punched on a pitch just across Birmingham a couple of months ago and went on to score, it can be concluded he does not exactly waver in the face of antagonism.
Once inside it was certainly a hostile Hawthorns atmosphere. The whistles when West Brom were out of possession were vociferous. It was the noisiest the ground had been in years.
The volume ratcheted up further in the ninth minute when Anwar El Ghazi leant down his shoulder to control a cross by Kieran Gibbs but instead nudged the ball with his arm. It should have been a penalty, but referee Chris Kavanagh was unmoved.
Before the half hour it was Villa's turn to be aggrieved. Tyrone Mings felt he should have had a foul for a push by Jay Rodriguez but play continued and West Brom won a corner, then a throw-in. From there Shan's team went ahead.
Holgate launched the ball long into the Villa box and Craig Dawson ran from deep, sprang monumentally, and guided a header in off the post. It travelled a narrow path between Abraham and Ahmed Elmohamady to creep in. The ground utterly erupted.
There was a melee on the stroke of half-time when Chris Brunt stood on John McGinn's arm. It looked accidental but McGinn was incensed.
West Brom came out after the interval firing. Steer was thankful to Mings after his poor kick-out went straight to Jacob Murphy. The winger's shot was going in before Mings cleared off the line. Steer then needed two attempts to gather Rodriguez's firm drive. Villa were wobbling.
Matt Phillips headed over from four yards, and Brunt sent an effort whistling past the post. West Brom were maintaining their physicality, and Brunt resumed his battle with McGinn by sliding into a foul that earned his first booking.
Finally, in the 68th minute, Villa had a proper attempt. El Ghazi hit a low shot that Sam Johnstone pushed away.
With ten minutes left West Brom were reduced to ten men for the second time in four days as the trilogy of tussles between Brunt and McGinn was complete. Brunt scythed down McGinn and got a second yellow.
The dismissal swung momentum Villa's way and in the 87th minute Johnstone produced an inspired one-handed save to Albert Adomah's fierce finish from 10 yards. Johnstone then punched out McGinn's strike.
Villa dominated extra-time but were unable to tease apart West Brom's resilient backline. In truth it was the whole team just trying to hold on, with Shan's substitutions meaning they had six defenders on the pitch and two young players in Jonathan Leko and Rakeem Harper.
McGinn created Villa's best chance with a superb cross but Keinan Davis headed straight at Johnstone.
In the shootout Steer's saves meant Adomah sending his effort over the bar did not prove costly. Conor Hourihane, Grealish, Mile Jedinak and Abraham scored.