Baggies play at 3pm shocker!

West Bromwich Albion v Bristol City; The Hawthorns, Saturday 16th March 2024, 3pm

After a wait of six weeks, Albion finally play another match at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, the time when football is supposed to be played! The Baggies’ last such match was the 1-0 victory over Birmingham City on 3rd February and in the eight intervening games, they have been beaten only once picking up 15 points from the 24 available putting them fourth in the eight-match form table.

Bristol City have not enjoyed anything like that level of success recently, although they did record a victory last Sunday beating Swansea City 1-0 to bring a run of four successive defeats to an end. Sunday’s victory was only their third in thirteen games, a run that has seen them drop from 8th, just a point off the play-offs, after a 4-1 win at Watford on Boxing Day, to their current position of 13th some eleven points off a top six spot.

Liam Manning replaced Nigel Pearson as Robins boss after Bryan Robson’s former assistant at the Hawthorns was sacked after a run of five defeats in seven games. In terms of results, little appears to have improved under Manning, indeed you could argue they have got worse. Pearson’s team had earned an average of 1.4 points per game from the first 15 matches of the season but they have since earned an average of less than 1.2. Manning had spent just eight months in charge of Oxford United, albeit a successful period, when he was offered the job at Ashton Gate, but he has struggled to engineer a turnaround in form that might have seen City challenge for the play-offs. However, he has been trying to engineer a change in playing style without the personnel needed to make it successful, so after a summer window, he may have more success if given the time. The victory last week probably eased any lingering fears that the Robins could have been dragged into the relegation fight. They are nine points clear of the drop zone and, more importantly, there are eight clubs between them and the bottom three.

The match will see, of course, the return of Taylor Gardner-Hickman to the Hawthorns after his loan move was made permanent in January. Since moving to Ashton Gate, the match against Albion in September, when he was ineligible to play, is the only league game he hasn’t been involved in and he has made 21 league starts for the Robins. He has been one of their most consistent performers based on, netting once in the 3-2 win over Middlesbrough in November. He was a popular player at the Hawthorns, having come through the academy, and I’m sure he will receive a warm welcome. Let’s just hope he doesn’t enjoy his return too much.

Another of City’s influential players, centre back Kai Naismith, will miss the game having suffered a set back in his recovery from a hamstring injury sustained in November, but playmaker Scott Twine is likely to be involved after recovering from a muscle injury that has restricted him to just one appearance since his loan move from Burnley in January.

Carlos Corberán has no fresh injury worries but will not be able to field Andi Weimann as he is, of course, on loan from Bristol City. The return of Brandon Thomas-Asante to the squad last weekend would suggest that he should be fit enough to start on Saturday and I certainly would welcome that change. I believe the Baggies have suffered without a natural number nine – Wallace works hard but, in my opinion, his instincts don’t suit that role, particularly when there is a need to hold the ball up to release pressure.

Mikey Johnston is likely to celebrate another call up to the Republic of Ireland squad with another start – he is close to being undroppable at the moment with four goals in his last three games, and six in seven appearances since he scored the first minute opener against Cardiff City on his full Albion debut. The other attacking players are perhaps less sure of starting spot with Wallace, Diangana, Fellows and Swift all vying for a place, but all likely to get minutes at some point during the game. Tom Fellows is also celebrating an international call up having been named in the England Elite League Squad, formerly the U20 team, for games against Poland and Czechia, his first representative honours.

Matt Phillips returned to training this week but will not be risked this weekend with an international break to come, while Josh Maja is expected to be back in training after Easter. There was some very positive news on Friday afternoon in that Conor Townsend is fully recovered and available for this match. He is another that has been missed in recent weeks – with Erik Pieters employed centrally in a couple of the games he missed, Adam Reach was playing at left back and he is nowhere near as secure defensively. The return of Townsend is definitely a huge positive.

It’s time for the Baggies to go into an international break on a high for a change – defeats to Huddersfield Town, Birmingham City and Southampton preceded the three autumn breaks this campaign, so it is time for a victory to keep Albion well clear of the chasing pack. If the players perform, that should be the result.


Saturday’s match will be the 50th league meeting between the Baggies and the Robins with Albion having won 21 to City’s 14. The first meeting between the clubs was a Division Two fixture at the Hawthorns in October 1901 which ended in a 2-2 draw. Although Albion beat Bristol City twice in FA Cup ties at the Hawthorns in 1910 and 1926, it wasn’t until March 1930 that they recorded their first home league win over the Robins at the sixth time of asking, albeit they had lost only one of the previous five. The match finished 2-0 with Jimmy Cookson and Joseph Evans scoring the goals.

City’s 2-0 win on their last visit was only their fourth victory at the Hawthorns and their first since December 1993 when a goal from Robins legend, Brian Tinnion, was enough to claim all three points. When they returned almost exactly a year later on Boxing Day 1994, they were honoured to be the first opposition to play in front of the newly-opened all-seater Birmingham Road End – the entertainment did not match the occasion and it was settled in the hosts’ favour by an own goal by City’s Stuart Munro.

Starting with that match, the Baggies won six and drew two of the next eight encounters between the sides at the Hawthorns until City won in 2022. Moreover, Albion scored four goals in four of those victories and three in the most recent win in October 2021 – Jordan Hugill opened the scoring with what proved to be his only goal in an Albion shirt with Kyle Bartley and Karlan Grant scoring the other goals in a 3-0 win.

Albion’s best win over Bristol City is 4-1, a result they have recorded on four separate occasions. The first was in January 1926 in an FA Cup Third Round tie at the Hawthorns when goals from Joe Carter, Jack Byers and a brace from Tommy Glidden put the Throstles through to Round Four. The other three 4-1 wins have come in the 21st century. There was another Boxing Day win in 2007 when Bednar, Koren and Kevin Phillips (2) secured the result while two years later, on City’s next visit in November 2009, Jerome Thomas, Chris Brunt, a Louis Carey own goal and Simon Cox were those responsible for a repeat result. A decade later, it was Kieran Gibbs, Matheus Pereira, Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin who guided Slaven Bilić’s team to the most recent 4-1 win.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L W D W D W
Bristol City W L L L L W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

16 Sep 2023 – League Championship
Bristol City 0
West Bromwich Albion 0

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

18 Oct 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 0
Bristol City 2 (Williams, Wells)

Last win

26 Dec 2022 – League Championship
Bristol City 0
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Phillips, Thomas-Asante)

Last win at the Hawthorns

23 Oct 2021 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Hugill, Bartley, Grant)
Bristol City 0

Albion’s Record against Bristol City

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 49 21 14 14 75 52   24 13 7 4 45 23
FA Cup 6 3 2 1 12 9   3 2 1 0 10 5
League Cup 2 0 1 1 2 3   1 0 1 0 2 2
Other 1 0 0 1 0 1   0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 58 24 17 17 89 65   28 15 9 4 57 30

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