West Brom 4 Huddersfield Town 2
Albion were forced to come from behind once again at the Hawthorns, but secured the three points to move within a point of the top of the Championship table.
Slaven Bilić’s team have conceded the first goal in seven of their eight league games this season, but on four of those occasions, they have come back to claim all three points while they have earned a draw in the other three. Against Huddersfield at a wet Hawthorns, Albion had to come from behind twice but a brace from Matt Phillips and goals from Darnell Furlong and Semi Ajayi meant that it turned out to be a relatively comfortable 4-2 victory.
Lewis O’Brien’s opener for the visitors was the result of a lovely move that the youngster started himself. Romaine Sawyers followed the ball towards Frasier Campbell rather than tracking O’Brien’s run as he played a one-two, and he produced a fantastic finish. You can always pick holes in the defence for pretty much every goal conceded, but I think it would be harsh to blame the defence too much for that one.
The same cannot be said for the Terriers’ second, however. Bartley’s pass was poor, but Darnell Furlong had advanced way too far forward given the position of the ball, and he was unable to get back to challenge Karlan Grant. If Albion are going to continue to play out from the back, they will make the odd mistake and all players need to be in the right position to react.
In between those goals, Furlong produced some fantastic attacking play to beat Kongolo and finding Ashton in the box – he laid it off for Phillips to fire home the equaliser. From an attacking point of view, the ex-QPR man had a very impressive game.
Huddersfield certainly didn’t look like a team short on confidence in the first half, but it was a different story after the break as the hosts dominated. Bilić made another decisive substitution at half time bringing Diangana on from Krovinović and switching Pereira into the number ten position. It was further evidence that the Croatian midfielder is not quite as effective as the Brazilian in that slot. He does tend to drop too deep and not move the ball quick enough, and Albion looked much more dangerous in the second half.
Diangana provided a threat on the left wing to add to the combination of Phillips and Furlong on the right, while Pereira kept things moving quickly in the middle of the park. The Brazilian is far more effective in a central position in my opinion.
While the Baggies controlled the game in the second half, it took a while for the equaliser to come. Austin came closest when his header from Furlong’s cross was well saved by Kamil Grabara, and it was the right back himself who finally got Albion back on terms as he headed home Diangana’s cross. The on loan winger claimed his second assist a few minutes later when he set up Phillips for his second of the game to put Albion in front for the first time.
It was no more than the Baggies deserved having been the better side throughout, albeit only really showing their true ability in the second half. Semi Ajayi put some gloss on the scoreline in the closing minutes as he headed home Pereira’s corner for his second goal in two games.
It’s a great three points and Albion are well placed in fourth, one point behind joint leaders Leeds United, Swansea City and Preston North End, but those frailties at the back remain and Bilić’s team are still without a clean sheet. Last season, the Baggies’s first clean sheet in the league was recorded in their ninth game, and I’m sure Albion fans will be delighted if the same happens again this season. Next week’s trip to fifth-place Queen’s Park Rangers is their ninth game of the season, and a point would certainly be a good result at the newly-named Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
The real positive is that Albion are continuing to get results and are still unbeaten in spite of the obvious issues at the back. Those can be addressed and, once they are, the Baggies will be a formidable force in the Championship.