United bring Baggies' promising start to season to a shuddering haltALBION’S bright start to this season’s Barclays Under-21 Premier League came to a shuddering halt against an impressive Manchester United side containing Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans at the heart of defence.
The Baggies, being watched by Steve Clarke in the stands, went into the Hawthorns encounter unbeaten in their opening two games.
But the hosts rarely threatened Ben Amos’ goal and fell behind to Nick Powell’s header in the 15th minute.
From that point it became a war of attrition until a swift counter-attack saw Angelo Henriquez double the lead two minutes before the break.
Any hopes David Oldfield’s men had of getting back into the game vanished ten minutes into the second half when Adnan Januzaj rocketed home a penalty.
And 78th-minute substitute Tom Lawrence scored within three minutes of coming to make it four.
United threatened first in the fifth minute when Donervorn Daniels stood tall to block Jesse Lingard’s fiercely-struck shot with his face from inside the box – he needed treatment before he could continue.
The visitors came close to opening the scoring on 15 when Wes Atkinson did well to nod away Powell’s powerful header from Januzaj’s left-wing corner.
But from the resultant Lingard flag-kick from the other flank Powell broke the deadlock, with Atkinson this time unable to sort his feet out in time to scoop his effort off the goalline.
Powell was proving a menace and four minutes later he let fly from the edge of the box – but saw his shot fly wide of the left-hand post.
Thomas Thorpe was left unattended at the back post in the 22nd minute and headed inches wide from close range.
The Baggies’ first effort on goal came on 28 when Kemar Roofe’s inch-perfect free-kick was well saved by Amos at the base of his left-hand post.
After a lengthy spell where both sides failed to get in behind, United stepped up a gear as Powell slid Lingard in inside the box and he teed up Henriquez for a simple tap-in to double the lead two minutes before the break.
Two minutes into first-half stoppage time Daniels came within an inch of getting a decisive touch on Aaron Birch’s cross before Amos leapt to gather the ball and preserve his clean-sheet at half-time.
David Oldfield made a change to the Baggies line-up at the interval, with Samir Nabi coming on for Alex Jones.
But Reece Hayes’ slip in the middle of the park on 52 allowed the Red Devils to break three on one.
Atkinson did enough to distract Lingard, Henriquez and Januzaj and prevent them from scoring.
But from the following passage of play Bradley Garmston felled Henriquez with a rash challenge in the box to concede a penalty that Januzaj coolly tucked away in the top left-hand corner.
Seconds before Atkinson was forced off due to injury and was replaced by Callum Jones.
United continued to threaten and vital blocks from Daniels and Garmston and some wayward shooting from the visitors kept the scoreline at 3-0, with 15 minutes remaining.
For the second time in the game Roofe forced Amos into a sprawling save from a free-kick in the 78th minute.
But three minutes later Guillerermo Varela showed good skill to burst into the six-yard box and tee up substitute Lawrence for a fourth.
Jack Rose then did well to dive low to his left and beat out Henriquez’15-yard effort on the turn as United continued to attack until the final whistle.
ALBION (4-2-1-3): Rose; Francis (Oldnall 67), D Daniels, Gayle, Atkinson (C Jones 55); Birch, Hayes; Roofe; Ferrier, A Jones (S Nabi HT), Garmston. Subs not used: Palmer (gk), Campbell.
UNITED (4-1-2-3): Amos; Varela, Keane, Evans, Blackett; Thorpe; Cole, Powell (Rothwell 79); Januzaj (Lawrence 78), Henriquez, Lingard. Subs not used: Sutherland (gk), Ekangamene, Pereira.
REFEREE: M D’Aguilar (Cannock).
GOALS: UNITED – Powell (15), Henriquez (43), Januzaj (pen 55), Lawrence (81).
ALBION STARMAN: Morgan Ferrier.