ALBION brushed aside Norwich in a 4-0 victory in the Barclays Under 21 Premier League at the club’s training ground this afternoon.
Head coach Steve Clarke watched on as Adil Nabi
fired a brace for the Baggies, with Romaine Sawyers’ early penalty and a late Kemar Roofe strike earning the side all three points.
David Oldfield’s players were boosted by the inclusion of Steven Reid, who started his first game in over two months, after suffering a hamstring injury in September.
Both sides observed a poignant minute’s silence before the game kicked off on this Remembrance Sunday.
Nabi was the catalyst in almost every Baggies attack and with nine minutes gone, he exchanged a one-two with Sawyers, before blazing over under pressure from Canaries keeper Rudd.
Albion were awarded a penalty four minutes later when Bradley Garmston’s cross was handled by City right-back Harry Barker and referee Rob Ellis had no choice but to point to the spot.
Sawyers stepped up and firmly struck his right-foot effort past Rudd in the Norwich goal from 12 yards.
Liam O’Neil could have doubled the Baggies’ lead on 24 but hit his left-foot shot over the bar from Thorne’s throughball.
Moments later Thorne broke through the heart of City’s defence, rounded Rudd and struck a left-foot effort just wide of the right-hand post.
Albion continued to dominate with no reply from the Canaries and Sawyers continued to pester when his left-foot shot went whiskers over the bar from Roofe’s cross.
The Baggies finally converted a second on 36 as another Roofe cross was this time netted by Nabi from 15 yards.
Norwich created very little throughout the first-half but were awarded a penalty on 38 minutes as Adel Gafaiti tumbled inside the area after minimal contact from O’Neil.
Jamar Loza’s right-foot spot-kick travelled well wide of Shane Lewis’ right-hand post and Albion went into the break with their two-goal lead intact.
David Oldfield’s side continued to dominate possession in the second-half’s early exchanges, with Reid, O’Neil and Thorne sweetly knocking the ball around the middle of the park.
On 54 the Baggies should have extended their lead as Nabi clipped a fine ball across the box to Roofe – but the 19-year-old winger’s side-footed shot went wide of the right-hand post.
Roofe continued to plague the City backline and three minutes later he was denied by Rudd from Thorne’s throughball.
Roofe’s frustration showed and five minutes later he was given a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Norwich’s Carlton Morris.
Reid might have crowned his return to action with a goal on 66 but headed over from Garmston’s left-foot cross.
The 31-year-old midfielder bowed out for a player less than half his age on 69 minutes as Isaiah Brown, who is only 15 years old, replaced the former Ireland international in midfield.
Less than 60 seconds later Rudd spectacularly blocked Nabi’s volley from Sawyers’ pull-back but was unable to react to the attacker’s rebound and the Baggies were three up.
On 74 minutes Nabi could have grabbed his hat-trick but his firm right-foot effort was again well denied by Rudd.
With 12 minutes remaining Roofe at last got his goal after knocking in Garmston’s inch-perfect cross from close range to make it four.
David Oldfield’s side fully deserved their four-goal triumph and this confidence-building display will no doubt help them prepare for Friday’s trip to West Ham (ko 7pm).
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Lewis; Atkinson, Gayle, D Daniels, Garmston; O’Neil, Reid (I Brown 69); A Nabi, Thorne (c), Roofe; Sawyers (O’Sullivan 80). Subs not used: Palmer (gk); Birch, C Jones.
NORWICH: Rudd; Barker, Clunan, McNeil, Toffolo (Durojaiye 75); Hal-Johnson, McGeehan, Gafaiti, King (Hodd 86); Loza, Morris. Subs not used: Sharpe, Worman, Browne.
GOALS: ALBION – Sawyers (pen 13), A Nabi (36, 70), Roofe (78)
BOOKINGS: ALBION - Garmston (foul 42)
REFEREE: R Ellis (West Midlands)