ALBION suffered late heartbreak as they were defeated 2-0 by Manchester City at The Hawthorns this afternoon.
The visitors netted twice in the final eight minutes to claim all three points from the Barclays U21 Premier League clash.
Ben Foster played his first competitive football in over three months before being replaced by youngster Jack Rose at the interval.
The visitors should have been ahead as early as the fifth minute.
John Guidetti blasted fractionally wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the six-yard box.
The City striker had another good chance on 18 but saw his right-foot strike fly over the crossbar after hitting Kyle Howkins.
Foster had to wait until the 41st minute to be called into action.
And the 30-year-old stopper comfortably gathered Albert Rusnak’s weak effort from 15 yards.
Chances were few and far between at The Hawthorns and both sides went into the interval with plenty to think about.
Foster made way for Jack Rose at the break – having successfully completed his return from a foot injury.
The Baggies started the second half brightly and could have gone ahead through Aaron Birch.
But the midfielder directed Wesley Atkinson’s cross wide of the left post from close range.
The Citizens went close on 59 but keeper Rose was more than up to the challenge of collecting Jason Denayer’s header from Sinin Bytyqi’s corner.
Bytyqi had a chance of his own less than 60 seconds later but sent a ferocious right-foot shot high over the bar into an empty Smethwick End.
Albion survived a brief scare moments later.
Rose had to be on his toes when Jordan Francis’ miss-hit clearance flew goalward from Adam Drury’s low cross.
Sub Devante Cole should have scored for the visitors on 69.
The City centre-forward dispossessed Francis before curling the ball narrowly wide of the right post from just inside the area.
Atkinson tested Lawlor with 20 minutes remaining but the City stopper parried and then gathered the left-back’s strike.
Then there was a minute to forget for the hosts.
Firstly, Bytyqi curled a 20-yard free-kick around the wall and into the bottom-right-hand corner.
Seconds later City doubled their lead when Jordy Mayifuila fired Drury’s ball past Rose from 15 yards.
The two sides meet again next Sunday when the Citizens play hosts in the U21 Premier League Cup (ko 2pm).
ALBION: Foster (Rose HT); Francis, C Jones, Howkins, Atkinson; Birch, O’Neil; Barrow (S Nabi 18), O’Sullivan, Hallahan (Ward 60); A Jones. Subs not used: Donnellan, Wright.
MAN CITY: Lawlor; Drury, Leigh, Facey, Denayer, Huws, Lopes (Cole HT), Glendon (Fofana 62), Guidetti (Mayifuila 70), Rusnak, Bytyqi. Subs not used: Bossaerts, Gunn.
GOALS: MAN CITY – Bytyqi (82), Mayifuila (83).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – None. MAN CITY – None .
REFEREE: Ian Dudley (Nottinghamshire).