HEAD coach Alan Irvine was left to rue sloppy defending as Albion fell to a 3-2 friendly defeat at Port Vale tonight.
Academy graduate Kemar Roofe put the Baggies into an early fifth-minute lead with a cool finish having beaten the offside trap at Vale Park.
But it was the League One hosts who went into the interval with their noses ahead as Ben Williamson levelled from close range and then Tom Pope nodded a free-kick past Boaz Myhill.
Albion, however, were level four minutes after the restart as Bradley Garmston, another Academy product, fired home at the near post.
Both sides enjoyed chances to claim the spoils and it was Vale who did just that five minutes from time, Baggies defender Craig Dawson looping a bizarre header into his own net.
It was enough to inflict defeat in what was Albion’s penultimate pre-season test ahead of the new Barclays Premier League campaign, with Portuguese giants FC Porto the visitors to The Hawthorns on Saturday.
Irvine said: “We started very well, passed the ball really well, were completely in control of the game and scored a really good goal. We looked like we might get some more.
“And then we lost our way, unexplainably. We started to force things a bit, we started to play a bit longer than we had been playing instead of playing through the lines as we had been doing.
“So that was a big disappointment and then we compounded that by making some really poor mistakes for the two goals in the first half.
“And suddenly, what looked like a really comfortable game became a really difficult game.
“In the second half we came out well having tried to sort a few things at half-time.
“The lads responded and, again, scored a good goal, a goal which was well worked and saw some very good passing.
“And from there you’re thinking we’ll regain control of the game, and to some extent we did that, but we still looked vulnerable defensively.
“We had a number of chances but we didn’t take them and probably should have done on some occasions.
“And again, we’ve conceded with a poor late goal at the end of the game.”