Cardiff City 0 West Bromwich Albion 1
An incredible goal from Jeremy Sarmiento, whipping a fierce shot from left of the penalty area into the far corner, was enough to take all three points away from the Cardiff City Stadium and move the Baggies up to third place ahead of Wednesday night’s fixtures.
It was a night when Albion will prefer to remember the result rather than the performance, which was far from their best, but despite being below par, the Baggies were not really troubled by the Bluebirds and saw the game out fairly comfortably. The one sour note to the evening was an injury to Jed Wallace who was forced off in the first half with some sort of injury to his arm.
It was a match of few chances and it was the visitors who had the best of them. The goal was not really a chance, but Sarmiento, making just his second start for the real Albion, had already come close to opening the scoring in the first half when a swift break saw his shot rebound of the post and just evade Brandon Thomas-Asante who was following it in. BTA himself had a great chance to secure the points but could only direct his header over the bar from a couple of yards out with about ten minutes to go.
The hosts’ only attempt on target came as a result of some sloppy play from the Baggies that saw Josh Bowler run into the box but his shot was smothered by Alex Palmer, the only effort he had to deal with all game. City enjoyed spells of possession but were otherwise restricted to shots from long range that failed to worry Palmer’s goal.
The lack of fluidity in attacking areas was perhaps down to personnel changes – Matt Phillips was on the bench for the first time this season having started every other league game, and John Swift came in for Brandon Thomas-Asante, although BTA was involved before half-time when Wallace had to go off. While Sarmiento obviously won the game, he is a different player to Phillips and makes different runs, but I actually think that BTA’s absence was the biggest difference. While he was on the field, Wallace spent too much time in wide areas and there were many times when the central attacking areas were devoid of any presence. It was no surprise to me that Albion improved when BTA came on.
Having said that, there were a few below par performances with Okay and Grady both struggling to find any real rhythm while Kipré was below his best on his return to the club where he spent last season on loan. Bartley, in comparison, was immense, particularly in the dying stages as the Baggies faced a little pressure from set pieces.
I also think Tom Fellows deserves a mention for his late cameo – he’s a proper old fashioned winger, direct, willing to take on his man, and always trying to get to the byline and produce a cross. I think he will prove to be a useful asset as the season progresses.
Other than the injury to Wallace, it was a great night for the Baggies and sets them up for the visit of the league leaders on Saturday. And what a special goal that was – the club’s goal of the season might be sewn up already!