Club News

Albion U21 3 Reading U21 3

Senior quartet make injury comebacks

ALBION welcomed back a senior quartet of players from injury as they threw away a two-goal lead in the final 11 minutes to draw 3-3 at home to Reading in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.

Chris Brunt (hamstring) and Billy Jones (knee) both played more than an hour after just over four weeks on the sidelines.

And Jerome Thomas and Boaz Myhill both got 90 minutes under their belts as they returned to action for the first time since undergoing minor knee and thumb operations respectively.

Adil Nabi fired the Baggies into the lead within two minutes but Dominic Samuels netted against the run of play in the 35th minute to level the scores at the break.

Romaine Sawyers and Kemar Roofe scored within six minutes of each other to make it 3-1 to the Baggies on 67.

But the hosts were caught by a double sucker punch in the space of two minutes as Charlie Losasso curled home a delightful 79th-minute free-kick and Samuel bagged his second of the game nine minutes from time to snatch a point for the Royals.

The Baggies got off to a flying start with Nabi picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area before side-stepping his marker and firing home into the top right-hand corner of the net in the second minute.

Five minutes later Sawyers found space on the right before flashing a ball across the six-yard box – just out of reach of Roofe.

At the other end Sam Mantom was on hand to block Brynjar Gunnarsson’s fierce drive inside the box.

Mantom manoeuvred the ball to Brunt 20 yards out on 20 and the Albion skipper struck a low shot past the right-hand post as the hosts pressed the Royals back.

Thomas produced a burst of pace in the 24th minute and found Sawyers, who saw his 20-yard goalbound strike deflected wide for a corner by Nicholas Arnold’s late lunge.

Albion gifted the visitors a way back into the game ten minutes before half-time when they allowed Samuel to waltz through their defence and prod home from eight yards.

The Baggies’ response was swift as Mantom tested Jonathan Henly with a long-range left-foot shot that the Royals goalkeeper grabbed at the second attempt.

The hosts should have restored their lead on 41 – but Sawyers turned Bradley Garmston’s left-wing cross inches past the far post.

Henly was fortunate again moments later as he could only parry Brunt’s 25-yard drive and was grateful to gather at the second attempt ahead of anyone in blue and white stripes.

But the Reading stopper did well in the closing stages of the half to dive full stretch and pinch Roofe’s cross off Sawyers’ toes.

Roofe was on the attack again within four minutes of the restart as he drove at the Reading defence and flashed a 20-yard shot a fraction past the left-hand post.

Sawyers had another good chance to net in the 51st minute but swept Brunt’s corner straight into the arms of Henly from six yards.

Three minutes later Myhill made his first real save of the game as Jake Taylor chased down a ball to the byline and cut it back for Samuel, who let fly from 15 yards.

Sawyers finally got the goal he deserved just past the hour mark as he gathered Nabi’s pass and jinked inside Niall Keown, son of Arsenal ace Martin Keown, before coolly firing home low to Henly’s left.

Seconds later Nabi fired Thomas’ pass straight into Henly’s arms, with the goal at his mercy.

But it was 3-1 on 67 as Mantom stung Henly’s hands, substitute Isaiah Brown turned the rebound  goalwards, and Roofe blasted home.

The Royals continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack and Myhill had to be at this best in the 70th minute to palm Samuel’s header from Arnold’s deep cross onto the post.

But the Albion keeper was helpless to prevent Charlie Losasso’s sweet 25-yard free-kick curling over the wall and in off the right-hand upright in the 79th minute.

And, from seemingly being out of the game, the visitors were level two minutes later as Samuel was again allowed to drift into the box before drilling the ball home.

Nabi showed good feet to get a shot away on the edge of the area on 82 and force Henly into a fine save high to his right.

But Reading came even closer to snatching all three points six minutes from time when Samuel missed his hat-trick chance by heading Shane Griffin’s left-wing cross against the crossbar.

ALBION: (4-4-2): Myhill; B Jones (O’Sullivan 72), D Daniels, Gayle, Garmston; Thomas, Brunt (I Brown 61), Mantom, Roofe; Nabi, Sawyers. Subs not used: Lewis (gk), Birch, Atkinson.

READING (4-4-2): Henly; Arnold (Sweeney 80), Keown, MacDonald, Griffin; Stacey (Webb 59), Tshibola (Ikpeazu 80), Gunnarsson, Losasso; Samuel, Taylor. Subs not used: Lincoln (gk), Shama.

GOALS: ALBION - Nabi (2), Sawyers (61), Roofe (67); READING – Samuel (35 & 81), Losasso (79).#