West Bromwich Albion 1 Huddersfield Town 2
Albion suffered their first home defeat of the season against Huddersfield Town thanks to an injury time strike from Jack Rudoni that was all the more galling after Josh Maja had a fantastic opportunity to win the game for the hosts just seconds earlier. The defeat was all the more disappointing for Baggies fans given that the Terriers are managed by one of the most unpopular figures at the Hawthorns, Neil Warnock.
However, the performance of Corberán’s team was such that the hosts scarcely deserved a point from the game, let alone all three. The Spaniard was forced to change the defence with Semi Ajayi unavailable through injury, but he opted to go for a back four with Bartley and Townsend coming in for Ajayi and Pieters.
The most obvious effect was that Albion found it much more difficult to play out from the back with only two central defenders, albeit that was partly down to an excellent set up from Huddersfield and a distinct lack of intelligent movement from the Baggies’ forward players. The visitors had a few decent chances before they opened the scoring with a near post shot from Delano Burgzorg that Alex Palmer probably should have done better with.
The one goal Albion did score was on break from a Huddersfield corner. The ball broke to Molumby who fed a great ball through to Thomas-Asante who advanced into the opposition half before laying a perfect ball through to the onrushing Swift who finished calmy past Lee Nicholls.
Corberán’s substitutions largely had a positive effect with Sarmiento showing some great touches once again and Josh Maja using his strength well. Although the Terriers had the better of the chances for the first hour or so, as the game entered the final 15 minutes, it was the hosts who were on top. Although they constantly probed for an opening, Huddersfield defended superbly and it wasn’t until stoppage time that the Baggies created a clear opportunity. Maja was played in and calmly took a touch to create space and hit a firm low shot that Nicholls was able to push away with an outstretched leg.
Seconds later, Chalobah allowed Harratt to break to the left side of the penalty area and his cross eventually fell to Rudoni who fired into the corner past Palmer.
It is a disappointing way to go into the international break after what was a relatively positive final day of the transfer window with no first team players leaving and Corberán securing the competition he wanted at right back with Pipa. Albion’s head coach had pointed out that Huddersfield would offer a different test and, while his players didn’t perform anywhere near their best, it’s fair to say that Warnock got his tactics spot on.
Nevertheless, it was a game of tight margins and if Maja had placed his shot a little wider, or a little off the ground, it would have been Albion celebrating the late victory. Corberán expressed his disappointment that his team now have to wait two weeks before playing another game, but it will give time for further work with what is now a fixed squad and another new man to integrate.