West Brom 3 Harrogate Town 0
Albion safely secured their place in the third round of the Carabao Cup with a comfortable win over League Two Harrogate Town. The Sulphurites made their EFL debut at the weekend with a 4-0 win at Southend United and tried their best to take the game to the Baggies, but the Premier League outfit were ultimately too good.
In what was unsurprisingly Harrogate’s first ever meeting with the Baggies, Slaven Bilić opted to make ten changes from the side that started the defeat to Leicester City with Dara O’Shea the only player to keep his place. In an unfamiliar 4-4-2 formation, there were debut’s for goalkeeper, David Button, and defenders Cédric Kipré and Lee Peltier. Youngsters Sam Field and Rekeem Harper occupied central midfield flanked by Kyle Edwards and Kamil Grosicki with Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin up front. Conor Townsend took the left back slot.
The visitors made a bright start pressing high up the field and Albion struggled to impose any sort of control on the game in the early stages but once Rekeem Harper opened the scoring with a fantastic strike from outside the box, they started to improve. Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal was equally impressive but, with Aaron Martin’s header bringing a fine save from Button before half time, Harrogate were not out of the game at half time.
After the break, however, Albion looked much the better side and added a third when Kyle Edwards produced a wonderful piece of skill to beat his man on the wing before setting up substitute Callum Robinson for a simple tap in.
Edwards was probably Albion’s star performer as he looked a constant threat while both Lee Peltier and Cédric Kipré looked fairly solid without looking as if they would threaten a first team place. David Button certainly looked as it he might challenge Sam Johnstone for a first team place, however, with an assured performance – many will point to his willingness to come off his line as a particular positive but he also showed good distribution as well.
Harper and Field did OK in the middle of the park but, Harper’s goal aside, I don’t think there was anything to suggest that either will be pushing for a first team start, particularly with Conor Gallagher having joined on loan today. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Sam Field back out on loan this season – he definitely needs to be playing regular football to improve.
Grosicki did little but Matt Phillips looked bright when he came on. Austin had a couple of decent chances but failed to convert and with rumours that he may be used as a make-weight in a deal for Karlan Grant, I do wonder whether that may have been his last appearance in an Albion shirt.
While it was ultimately a comfortable win against a side the Baggies were expected to beat, it was perhaps not as easy as it should have been and not too many players did enough to stake a claim for a start in the Premier League. It was good minutes for the fringe players, but I’m not sure how much Bilić will have learned ahead of the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday.