New Bucks Head Ground

Monday 7th February 2022 -  19:00
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Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale says his side will need to show ‘character’ when they take on Southampton at the New Bucks Head on Monday night (ko 7pm).

The young Baggies fell to their fifth defeat of the season in Premier League 2 Division 2 last time around after being narrowly edged out 3-2 by Birmingham City.

Despite not playing a game over the last two weeks, Albion’s 23s have prepared well for their fourth clash of the campaign against Saints.

Beale was able to give his squad valuable game time during two friendly matches and he hopes those minutes on the pitch will stand them in good stead for their clash with Southampton, as the Baggies look to bounce back with a win.

“The boys have been working on a few things to prepare them for action again on Monday,” said Beale.

“We’ve managed to work the boys really hard while giving them a weekend off, which is a rarity in football. We’ve played a few friendlies over the last week and that’s given us the chance to look at some trialists and give minutes to some of those first-team players who need them.

“We’ll have had a productive couple of weeks by the time the Southampton game comes around, and I believe that’ll show on the pitch.

“I felt a bit of naive defending cost us in the last game against Birmingham, and you aren’t going to win many games if you concede three goals. Defending starts right from the front of the team and we didn’t switch on during a couple of occasions, but those were fine margins.

“These games are there so the U23s can make mistakes and work on them. The ones who pick up those lessons quickest will be the ones who find themselves in and around someone’s first team in the future.

“We use the analysis sessions as a group, in units and as individuals to aid the lads in their learning process and we try and tailor training sessions to allow them to carry out what they've learned onto the pitch so they can avoid making the same mistakes.

“The lads are far more comfortable doing it now than they were at the start of the year. Some of their observations are really impressive and even if they aren’t academically bright, their footballing intelligence is very high because they’ve been playing since the age of five and six.

“They all know the game and are interpreting the matches a lot better, but that’s only a small part of the jigsaw which is going to help them become better players.

“Bouncing back this year has been down to the boys and their character. We work on building that character every single day, but the lads haven’t suffered a hangover from a defeat this season and the most important thing is their performance levels.

“If they remain high, then more individuals will progress through and we’ve been fortunate this year to have earned more wins than defeats and that’s helped the boys buy into our coaching ideas as well.

“We know what Southampton are about, but teams at this level can change so much from the last time you played them. You can’t overanalyse what the opposition are going to do and most development programmes focus on themselves, and that's what we’ve been doing.

“The boys will be ready and raring to go and hopefully they can put in a good display which they can turn into another win.”

How to follow the game

Tickets will be available for Albion’s PL2 clash with Saints at the New Bucks Head on Monday evening.

Season ticket holders can watch the match for free, while the prices stand at £5 for adults, and just £1 for juniors on the night.

Alternatively, season ticket holders and members can also enjoy a live stream of the match. Click here and log in with your My Albion account linked to your season ticket or membership.

The stream will begin 10 minutes before kick-off (6.50pm).

If you haven’t yet set up your account click here for instructions.

If you have any issues logging in please contact myalbion@wbafc.co.uk

WBA TV Matchday

Albion’s PL2 side were edged out by Southampton on Monday night at The New Bucks Head.

Luke Pearce’s first-half volley proved to be the decisive moment in the game, as the Baggies fell to just their second home league defeat of the season.

There were positives to take from the match, though, as first-team defender Dara O’Shea came through his first full 90 minutes of competitive football since the start of September.

Credit: Grifftersworld Photography

Jovan Malcolm was another who made his return to the Baggies PL2 side following the conclusion of his loan spell at Sky Bet League One side Accrington Stanley, and it was he who had the game’s first chance - poking a fast-paced ball past the post.

It was a first 45 spent mainly in the away side’s half but when the south coast outfit got a clearcut opportunity they made Ted Cann in the Albion goal work, with Kazeem Olaigbe forcing the stopper into full stretch when Saints managed their first attempt of the night.

Lewis Payne saw a great opening pass him by when left free in the Baggies penalty area, but the visitors wouldn’t have to wait long to take their next chance when Pearce volleyed past Cann from a corner to give Southampton the edge at the break.

A slight change in shape benefitted the Baggies during the opening minutes of the second 45. Tom Fellows’ direct running caused the away side problems, but keeper Harry Lewis held onto his eventual effort before Saints full-back Payne put another golden chance wide at the other end.

Credit: Grifftersworld Photography

The away side were firmly in control for much of the second half, but Reyes Cleary's introduction off the bench paid dividends. Fellows missed out by a matter of inches on two of the substitute’s clever passes, before the striker forced Lewis into parrying his volley wide.

But Albion's youngsters couldn’t find an equaliser, as they suffered back-to-back defeats in Premier League 2 Division 2 for the first time this term.

Albion: Cann; M.Richards, O’Shea, Taylor; Ingram, King, Castro (Trialist 58), Ashworth; Fellows, Faal (R.Richards 66), Malcolm (Cleary 66).

Substitutes: Chisholm, Williams.