Berahino's first-half treble fires Baggies into third round
SAIDO Berahino enjoyed a dream full debut as he steered Albion safely into the Capital One Cup third round with a superb 37-minute hat-trick.
The Academy product, who turned 20 earlier this month, broke the deadlock with a sublime sixth-minute finish before doubling the Baggies’ lead on 26 with a stunning 18-yard drive.
Berahino’s only previous first-team outing came as an 84th-minute sub at Yeovil in the same competition 12 months ago.
But the Burundi-born Baggie, who has been at the club since under-12s level, made sure his first start was far more memorable by completing his treble from the penalty spot.
It capped a fine day for Berahino, who was called up by England Under-21s for the second time this afternoon.
League Two Newport, backed by a sizable – not to mention vocal – support from South Wales, put up a spirited fight but were simply blown away by Berahino’s brilliance.
Steve Clarke would also have been buoyed by a lively debut from Scott Sinclair, who joined on a season-long loan from Manchester City last Thursday.
New boys Sinclair and Diego Lugano were handed their Albion debuts while there were first starts for Academy products Luke Daniels and Berahino, plus summer-signing Matej Vydra.
Skipper Chris Brunt, Goran Popov and Craig Dawson also appeared in the starting XI for the first time this term.
As the coaching staff predicted, Newport came storming out of the blocks and pressed Albion all over the park.
Just 90 seconds were on the clock when County recorded their first effort at goal but Lee Minshull’s 25-yard effort screwed well wide.
Newport, who knocked out Championship outfit Brighton in the previous round, strode forward again in the fifth minute and County skipper Andy Sandell blasted wide from 18 yards under pressure from Berahino.
However, the Baggies were ahead just a minute later from their first real attack.
Sinclair ran at the visiting defence before slipping through Berahino, who dinked the ball over the on-rushing Lenny Pidgeley and just inside the far post.
Sinclair was at it again in the 11th minute with a fine left-wing run and Pidgeley had to rush off his line to stop the former Chelsea man in his tracks.
A large chunk of the home crowd thought Berahino had bagged a second on 15 when he shot goalwards after being teed up by Graham Dorrans following another impressive Sinclair run. However, the striker’s 15-yard shot rippled the wrong side of the net.
Newport regrouped and, two minutes later, Adam Chapman fizzed an effort just wide from the edge of the box after Albion only partially cleared a corner.
And the South Wales side wasted a golden opportunity to draw level on 23. Harry Worley put Conor Washington clean through and the County forward’s right-footed shot was superbly diverted wide by Daniels.
County kept the Baggies penned in from the ensuing corner and Worley headed harmlessly wide from Chapman’s cross.
Berahino then gave Albion breathing space with a simply stunning strike. The former Peterborough loan signing made room for a shot on the edge of the box before rifling into the far top left-hand corner.
Berahino was full of confidence and, after a forceful run, he fed Brunt who cut inside before seeing his 20-yard drive deflected wide by Worley. From Dorrans’ ensuing corner, Dawson beat Pidgeley in the air but headed over.
Albion were turning the screw and Vydra saw a 20-yard shot deflected just over.
Worley’s foul on Dawson in the box from Brunt’s corner presented Berahino with his big moment. The young striker didn’t disappoint, sending Pidgeley the wrong way from the penalty spot to bag a 37-minute hat-trick.
Albion suffered an injury blow two minutes before the break when Vydra limped off and was replaced by Markus Rosenberg.
County started the second half brightly but failed to trouble Daniels with a couple of long-range efforts.
Albion also tried their luck from distance on 53, with Dorrans shooting wide from 25 yards.
After a lengthy period of inactivity, Popov and Rosenberg combined to set up Brunt but the off-balance midfielder screwed wide from 15 yards.
There was a big moment for another Academy graduate, Cameron Gayle, on 70 when he made his first-team debut by replacing Billy Jones.
Rosenberg had a great chance to make it 4-0 on 71 but the Swede dragged his shot wide after being put clear by sub James Morrison.
After a spot of penalty-box pinball, Morrison was denied a certain goal by Sandell’s last-ditch block.
Newport created their final chance in the last minute but Washington failed to get a presentable header on target from Sandell’s centre.
ALBION (4-3-3): Daniels; Jones (Gayle 70), Lugano, Dawson, Popov; Dorrans, Yacob (Morrison 64), Brunt (c); Vydra (Rosenberg 43), Berahino, Sinclair. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Long, Mulumbu, McAuley.
NEWPORT (3-5-2): Pidgeley; Worley, Naylor, Hughes; Jackson, Chapman (James 62), Willmott, Minshull (Flynn 53), Sandell (c); Crow (Zebroski 72), Washington. Subs not used: Stephens (gk), Pipe, Jolley.
GOALS: ALBION – Berahino (6, 26 & 37 pen).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Yacob (foul 30). NEWPORT – Jackson (foul 39), Minshull (foul 45), James (foul 66).
REFEREE: A D’Urso (Essex)
ALBION STARMAN: Saido Berahino.