West Bromwich Albion 2 Norwich City 1
Carlos Corberán’s Baggies came from behind to beat Norwich City in their final home game of the season to keep their slim hopes of a play-off place alive for the final day of the season on Monday week. Mental strength has been lacking in the Albion team of late, but they showed plenty of it against the Canaries and they’ve given themselves a chance, at least, of extending their season.
Brandon Thomas-Asante had missed a massive chance in the first half when he was through on the goalkeeper while Semi Ajayi had a header well saved by Angus Gunn, but it looked like the visitors would go in ahead after Josh Sargent fired them in front four minutes before half time. The hosts responded with a wonderful free-kick from Conor Townsend to go in all square, although Canaries’ boss David Wagner argued that the award was somewhat controversial. It was the former Scunthorpe United player’s first goal at the Hawthorns with his three previous Albion goals coming on the road. It was also the first goal scored by an Albion player direct from a free kick since Matheus Pereira scored at Goodison Park in September 2020!
Townsend claimed an assist for what turned out to be the winner ten minutes into the second half when his cross was fired home by Jed Wallace for his first goal at the Hawthorns since December and only his second strike of 2023 having scored at Watford in February. It was Thomas-Asante who deserved the credit, however, after he managed to come away with the ball on halfway line despite being on the floor and surrounded by three players before feeding the ball in behind for Townsend.
BTA almost capped off an excellent performance with a wonder goal as he received the ball on the halfway line, spotted Gunn way off his line but slightly overhit his effort which dropped agonisingly on the roof of the net with the Canaries ‘keeper flailing. He scored from a similar effort at Aston Gate on Boxing Day but couldn’t repeat it on this occasion.
The visitors rarely threatened for the remainder of the match as Albion managed the game superbly – even the introduction of Adam Idah and Teemu Pukki failed to produce any sign that the Canaries would get back into the game.
Jake Livermore, who had released an emotional farewell letter to fans on the club website earlier in the week, was warming up for much of the second half and, as the game drew to a close, there were calls from the fans to see him make his final Hawthorns appearance. Corberán responded and introduced him in stoppage time as a replacement for Jed Wallace to rapturous applause. Livermore has divided opinion for much of his Albion career, but I feel that he has been an excellent servant for the club and is, of course, the last outfield player to represent England as a Baggies player.
This was a good solid performance and a well-deserved victory but Albion will head to Swansea more in hope than expectation that a top six spot can be secured. Defeat for Blackburn Rovers to Luton Town in their game in hand on Monday will certainly improve their chances, but it is out of their hands and all they can do is do everything they can to claim all three points in south Wales, and then hope that other results go their way.