|West Bromwich Albion 2 v 0 Ipswich Town
Saturday, 25th November 2023 Kick-off 17:30
West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 25th Nov 2023 19:30
Town fell to only their second Championship defeat of the season and first away from home in the league since January as goals at the start of each half from Darnell Furlong and Grady Diangana saw West Brom to victory at the Hawthorns in Blues manager Kieran McKenna’s 100th game in charge of the club. Furlong’s flicked header from a corner gave the Baggies the lead in the fifth minute, then Diangana added the second two minutes after the break with the Blues subsequently never looking like taking anything from the game.
McKenna made two changes from the team which beat Swansea 3-2 at home prior to the international break with Wes Burns and Brandon Williams returning to the XI.
Burns, who came back from his shoulder injury for the final half hour against the Swans, came into his usual right-sided role for Omari Hutchinson, who was absent from the squad due to illness.
Williams, who missed the final three games before the break due to illness, was at right-back with Harry Clarke dropping to the bench.
The Baggies made one change from the team which lost 2-1 at Southampton prior to the break with Alex Mowatt replacing Nathaniel Chalobah, brother of former Town loanee Trevoh, in midfield.
West Brom should have taken the lead via the game’s first chance in the fifth minute. Baggies skipper Jed Wallace sent over a teasing cross from the right which Brandon Thomas-Asante threw himself at inside the side yard area but was just unable to get a touch on before it was turned behind at the far post.
However, the home fans didn’t have to wait much longer for a goal. From the resultant corner taken by Matt Phillips, Darnell Furlong rose high to flick a header across goal and just inside the far post.
While the Baggies celebrated, the Town players, who had gone behind within the first 15 minutes for the sixth match running, took part in an inquest into what had gone wrong.
West Brom had a spring in their step having gone in front and on eight Thomas-Asante struck an effort from not far outside the area which was too close to Vaclav Hladky, who claimed.
However, Town began to get themselves more into the game and in the 18th minute won a corner. Skipper Sam Morsy played it to Jack Taylor, who had made a run to the edge of the box, but the former Peterborough man sent his first-time effort well over.
Two minutes later, after an excellent Williams tackle had stopped Phillips in his tracks, Conor Chaplin sent Burns away on the right with a superb looping pass, the Welshman winning another flag-kick following which Nathan Broadhead overhit a pass as he tried to play in Burns.
Town were starting to threaten more regularly and on 22 Burns blazed over having been found in space on the right of the box. The winger will feel he should have done much better.
There was a scare for the Blues two minutes later after Luke Woolfenden failed to deal with a low Phillips cross from the left. Cameron Burgess did well to get there ahead of Thomas-Asante and sent the ball against the striker and, fortunately for Town, into Hladky’s arms.
On 25, Davis felt he should have been awarded a penalty after his ankles appeared to be clipped on the left of the box as he burst past Kyle Bartley, however, referee Gavin Ward showed no interest and appeared to have made the correct decision.
Phillips got his name in referee Ward’s book in the 39th minute for a late challenge on Town keeper Hladky after the Czech had taken the ball into the right of his area with his feet before pouncing on it.
The Blues had largely been in control but without making much of their possession in the final third, while West Brom had presented a greater threat on the break.
In the 41st minute, Wallace was found in space on the right and sent over a low ball which Woolfenden blocked. Eventually, after Wallace had tried to get it into the box again, Hladky claimed it.
In the final scheduled minute, ahead of one additional minute, Phillips smashed a shot against Williams from just outside the area to the left with the home side continuing to present more of a danger.
Seconds before the whistle, George Hirst closed down home keeper Alex Palmer but couldn’t make anything of the loose ball.
Town will once again be frustrated at conceding an early goal, but gradually began to get themselves into the game and had a couple of opportunities through Taylor and Burns without testing Palmer.
However, the home side had looked more of a threat on the break with the Blues a little casual at times and might have increased their lead prior to the end of the half.
Town were first to threaten after the restart, Morsy clipping a ball into the area which Bartley flicked beyond Hirst and out for a corner.
And from the Town flag-kick, West Brom doubled their lead. After the Blues’ initial ball into the area had been headed out and Morsy’s shot blocked, the Baggies broke quickly, Wallace finding Asanta-Thomas, who fed in Diangana, who slipped the ball past Hladky and into the net off the inside of the post.
Soon after the goal, home keeper Palmer played a poor pass out of his area straight to Burns but the Welshman was unable to get it under control.
West Brom should have gone three in front in the 52nd minute, Wallace sending over a cross from the right, which reached Phillips inches out at the far post. The former QPR man seemed certain to score but somehow sent the ball back the way it came.
As the game reached the hour mark, Williams was yellow-carded for a rather frustrated late tackle on one-time Town target Conor Townsend.
Before the Baggies took the free-kick, the Blues swapped Taylor and the unusually quiet Broadhead for Massimo Luongo and Marcus Harness.
Having established their two-goal lead, the home side were comfortable, dominating the ball and looking more likely to score the game’s third goal.
The Baggies, who were continuing to see out the game confidently, made a triple change in the 72nd minute, John Swift, Jayson Molumby and Jeremy Sarmiento replacing Diangana, Phillips and Okay Yokuslu.
Two minutes later, Morsy was booked for a foul on Sarmiento as the sub broke towards the area on the left. Town subsequently switched Hirst and Burns for Freddie Ladapo and Kayden Jackson.
On 80, the Baggies swapped Thomas-Asante for Josh Maja, then three minutes later Town replaced Chaplin with Dane Scarlett.
In the final scheduled minute, the ball just wouldn’t fall cleanly for a Town player during a goalmouth scramble, then, following a West Brom attack ended by Luongo, illegally according to the home players and support, Scarlett wafted a delicate chip beyond Palmer but also past his far post. That was the last action before referee Ward blew his whistle.
Town can have few complaints about their second league defeat of the season. Their habit of conceding early goals was eventually going to cost them and having again gone behind in the opening stages, they had a couple of opportunities to get themselves back in it which they failed to take, but rarely troubled Baggies keeper Palmer throughout the 90 minutes looking uncharacteristically unthreatening.
Town failed to manage a single shot on target all evening, the first time that's happened since the 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday in January 2022 in McKenna's sixth match in charge.
Albion imposed themselves on the Blues physically and Town were never really able to control the game in their usual manner with the home side seeing the game out with little trouble having established their two-goal lead so soon after the break.
The Baggies, who are up to fifth, will almost certainly give the other teams towards the top of the division similarly difficult games and will fancy themselves to have enough to put themselves among the contenders before May comes around.
The Blues remain second in the table, now three points behind leaders Leicester, who won 2-0 at home to Watford this afternoon, and seven in front of Leeds in third, the Whites having been held to a 1-1 draw at Rotherham last night.
It was a disappointing way to mark McKenna’s 100-match milestone, the Blues’ boss’s 15th defeat overall, his 10th in the league and only his second by more than a single goal in the league - the other was his third match in charge at Bolton - and third overall.
The defeat ends Town’s 12-match league unbeaten and ends the Blues’ newly-established unbeaten away record at 17. Their most recent away league defeat was at Oxford in the fog in January.
Town, beaten for only the sixth time in their last 66 league matches, also failed to score for the first time in 35 matches going back to the 0-0 draw at Bristol Rovers on Valentine’s Day.
The Blues have the chance to bounce back from the loss when they host Millwall, who lost 3-0 at home to Coventry earlier today, on Wednesday.
West Brom: Palmer, Furlong, Townsend, Kipre, Bartley, Wallace (c), Phillips (Molumby 72), Diangana (Swift 72), Thomas-Asante (Maja 80), Mowatt, Yokuslu (Sarmiento 72). Unused: Griffiths, Ajayi, Pieters, Pipa, Fellows.
Town: Hladky, Williams, Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis, Morsy (c), Taylor (Luongo 60), Burns (Jackson 75), Chaplin (Scarlett 83), Broadhead (Harness 60), Hirst (Ladapo 75). Unused: Walton, Clarke, Tuanzebe, Ball. Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey). Att: 24,001 (Town: 1,989).
Photo: Matchday Images
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