BTA sees red as Baggies beaten

West Bromwich Albion 0 Sunderland 1

Carlos Corberán’s team lost their unbeaten record after the final few minutes of the first half completely changed the flow of the game and ultimately decided the result. Brandon Thomas-Asante, who had previously received only five yellow cards in his entire Albion career, was shown two in the space of a couple of minutes and was sent off. Sunderland then scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in first half stoppage time.

Before then, Albion looked to be pretty much in control albeit they hadn’t created much in the way of clear cut chances. Corberán had pulled another surprise by starting Nathaniel Chalobah in place of Okay Yokuşlu while he left the fit-again Jed Wallace on the bench preferring Tom Fellows from the start.

As expected, Sunderland defender Dan Ballard, the man who was responsible for Josh Maja’s injury in December, was consistently jeered by the home fans and was the man fouled for BTA’s second yellow card. He proceeded to wind up the Hawthorns crowd for the remainder of the game with both he and goalscorer, Pierre Ekwah, gesturing to the Birmingham Road End in celebrating the winner – it seems strange to me that a player can be booked for taking his shirt off but remain unpunished for such acts of blatant incitement.

I felt that Albion were the better side in the second half even with ten men, but they couldn’t quite get the goal. Sunderland showed very little ambition and it was the hosts that created the better chances overall although neither side was exactly peppering the goal – the xG stats were 1.07-0.95 in Albion’s favour. As Corberán said in his post-match comments, the goal itself was poorly defended and the Baggies rarely looked like conceding otherwise. However, the red card was ultimately decisive as I feel sure that Albion would have won with eleven men on the field – it was a silly moment from BTA and one he needs to learn from.

But we move on to the final three games of the season and the Baggies remain in a strong position. However, they have two tricky away games before welcoming Preston on the final day. Leicester City are stuttering at the moment having picked up just ten points from their last ten games while Sheffield Wednesday are fighting for their lives. The situation will become a little clearer on Tuesday evening when Preston play their game in hand at Southampton.

This result was a set back, but I still fancy Albion to get the points they need to finish in the top six.

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