Meadow Park

Thursday 11th November 2021 -  19:00
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Ethan Ingram is pushing Albion’s PL2 side to continue their winning start in the Premier League Cup when they face Arsenal at Meadow Park on Thursday night (ko 7pm).

Richard Beale’s men have impressed during their previous two matches in the competition, seeing off AFC Bournemouth’s youngsters 2-0 on home soil before recording a resounding 6-0 away victory against Southampton.

Promising defender Ingram, like several of the club’s young talents, has been regularly training with Valérien Ismaël’s senior squad this season while gaining important game-time in the Baggies’ Under-23s team.

And having enjoyed a morale-boosting beginning to the campaign following his inclusion in first-team affairs, the 18-year-old is determined to “increase confidence” with another important result against the Gunners.

“Some days I can’t believe I’m here and then other days it just feels normal to be with the first-team,” said Ingram.

“I’ve had to be by myself at times, do my own thing and reflect on the session before to improve certain things. Obviously I look at Darnell (Furlong) and the things he does to try and perfect my own game.

“I was a bit nervous at the start being around new people and a new manager, and we weren’t here for a year because of the situation last season. But since getting used to the new surroundings, it’s helped increase my confidence. Some 23s always train with the first-team so there’s going to be an opportunity for the gaffer to see your face and once you make an impression, there’s no reason why he can’t put you in.

Ingram made his senior debut against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup back in August

“I’ve never had a first-team manager so it was daunting at first, but he’s very good with us and has made me feel like one of the senior players.

“Training with the boys every week is going to naturally make you stronger, but I’ve been working in the gym to try and get to the size the first-team guys are so I can manage it and then carry it into 23s games where, when up against younger players, it can be beneficial.

“Not every player will be able to play 40 games and realistically there’s always a chance that something will open up for me in the future and I’m excited to try and push for that opportunity now.

“Rich [Beale] has brought in a refreshing style of football and we always feel relaxed but know what’s expected of us when playing under him. He’s very considerate to us boys who are in the first-team because we aren’t together all the time, but he understands we can switch on and off when we come together so it’s been very good learning under him.

“We never really think about the team we’re up against, we always focus on our own performance. Arsenal will be a good challenge and we’ve had challenges already this season, but getting a result against them would be right up there with what we’ve achieved so far.

“Every game’s an opportunity to improve no matter what competition it’s in and it’s important to get games in the bag. We’re always confident, but beating a big team only helps boost confidence and we’ll be looking to do that on Thursday.”

Albion’s PL2 side cemented their place at the top of Group A with a third consecutive Premier League Cup triumph over Arsenal on Thursday night.

Some lethal finishing saw the Baggies storm into a 4-0 lead courtesy of strikes from Tom Fellows, Reyes Cleary, Rayhaan Tulloch and Kevin Joshua. But not even a late consolation from Gunners attacker Kayhon Edwards could take the shine off an impressive display from Richard Beale’s side.

Credit: David Price - Arsenal FC Photographer

There was an open feel to the game with Arsenal looking to pass their way out from the back and Albion showing their usual high-tempo style to proceedings. But it was clear to see which approach benefitted most after less than five minutes when a neat one-two saw Cleary put the ball on a plate for Fellows to open the scoring for the visitors.

Cleary was rewarded for his creativity just minutes later, this time lashing in a lay-off from Tulloch before the latter also got in on the act to make it 3-0 as the Baggies took a commanding lead in at half-time.

Cleary celebrates netting Albion's second goal

The second 45 brought more fight out of the hosts, but Albion capitalised on their physicality when towering defender Joshua nodded in a fourth following a set-piece to take the game out of sight.

And although Arsenal striker Edwards squeezed in a late goal to deny Joshua and his team-mates a clean sheet, they couldn’t prevent Beale’s men taking maximum points from their opening three PL Cup group-stage games.

Speaking post-match, goalscorer Tom Fellows said:

"The early goal gave us momentum which helped set the tone for the game.

"You're battling for three points in these games and with the style we play, I think  we can go far and we want to go on and test ourselves against the best teams in this competition. 

"I played 45 minutes in the last game and 75 minutes this evening, so I'm just looking to keep building on that in the next matches. It's been great training with the first team and taking first-hand information onboard from the gaffer.  

"Playing with them has helped me take important lessons into matches with the 23s and I'm confident that once my fitness gets there, my performances will keep getting better too."

Albion: Palmer; Ingram, Joshua, Ashworth; Fellows (Hall 75), Teixeira, Andrews, Shaw; Cleary, Soule (Heard 69), Tulloch (Windsor 46).

Substitutes: Chisholm, M. Richards.