West Bromwich Albion 1 Leicester City 2
It was intensely frustrating to see the Baggies throw away a point in stoppage time as they left Conor Townsend to face three breaking players, but it’s difficult to be over-critical after a performance in which they matched what is undoubtedly the best side in the division and surely deserved a point.
Carlos Corberán’s reaction was something of a surprise. After the defeat to Southampton a few weeks ago, he bemoaned the lack of quality in both boxes that cost Albion on a day when they dominated much of the game. Following this loss, however, he was not critical of the desire to keep going for the victory by pushing centre backs up for a late long throw, although he did point to a lack of organisation between substitute midfielders Molumby and Chalobah as to who should be sitting deeper.
Ultimately, it was a second home defeat for Albion and a sixth successive victory at the Hawthorns for Leicester City, although Jamie Vardy didn’t get the chance to increase his goal tally at the Shrine as he remained an unused substitute. However, despite the frustrating finish to the game, it was another encouraging performance from Corberán’s Albion. The Foxes’ quality was evident on the Hawthorns the pitch as they posed by far the most difficult test that the Baggies have faced this season. While the result says that it was a test that they failed, I’m sure most observers would grade them with at least a B+.
The visitors certainly had more of the ball, but the shots (9) and shots of target (3) were even and the overall feeling was that it was two well-matched teams. Both sides struck the post in the first half and the visitors’ opener was the only real clear opportunity of the second period until that frantic final few minutes. Leicester won it, but it could easily have gone the other way.
It was good to see Josh Maja get his first Albion goal and, once again, Tom Fellows impressed off the bench and surely deserves a start. That may well come quickly given that Matt Phillips limped off in the first half and will join Jed Wallace in the treatment room for a few weeks.
Grady Diangana was below his best against Leicester while Sarmiento worked really hard but nothing fell for him. Given the injuries to Wallace and Phillips, both are likely to get plenty of game time in the coming weeks, as is John Swift. Corberán reported that the medical staff recommended that he should not start this game but, providing he shows no ill effects, he must surely start at Sunderland next week.
Another negative from the match was the booking for Okay Yokuşlu which means he breached the five yellow card limit in the final game before the amnesty. He will, therefore, be suspended for next week’s trip to Wearside.
While the four teams above Albion, including Leicester of course, all claimed victory, the clubs immediately below all failed to register a victory leaving the Baggies in fifth place. Although the Baggies have lost two of their biggest tests, they have competed well in both games and they are certainly well in the mix for the play-off places.
While Baggies fans will be disappointed and frustrated not to emerge from this game without a point, I feel there was plenty in this performance to remain optimistic for the remainder of the season, providing the ownership can be resolved satisfactorily, of course.