Baggies battle to deserved victory at The Hawthorns
KEMAR Roofe’s unstoppable strike was enough to seal all three points for Albion in their Barclays U21 Premier League Elite Group clash with Wolves at The Hawthorns this evening.
The Baggies had the better of both possession and chances throughout the fixture but were unable to make either count until Roofe fired a rocket into the back of Dorus De Vries’ net on 74 minutes.
David Oldfield selected an inexperienced Baggies XI featuring Scott Allan, Luke Daniels, James Hurst, Romaine Sawyers and Kemar Roofe.
While the visitors had Stephen Hunt in their starting line-up as he continued his recuperation following hip surgery in October.
And Albion’s Black Country neighbours were nearly ahead after ten minutes when Sam Whittall headed just over from Hunt’s in-swinging free-kick.
The Baggies carved out a chance of their own on 21 but De Vries parried Sawyers’ low ten-yard strike from Adil Nabi’s throughball.
Seven minutes later Adil’s younger brother Samir struck over after finding the space to turn and shoot inside the visitors’ penalty area.
Allan made his first real impact on the game in the 33rd minute as his 25-yard pass split Wolves’ defence in two but Jamie Tank recovered to deny Roofe with a last-ditch tackle.
Oldfield’s young side continued to establish their superiority on the game as the half drew on and they were close to taking the lead on 36 minutes with Roofe’s powerful effort passing narrowly over De Vries’ bar from 18 yards.
Albion squandered another good opportunity to take the lead on 39 and this time it was Adil Nabi who blasted wide from Sawyers’ throughball.
Jack Price was on hand to clear James Hurst’s low volley off the line from Roofe’s corner two minutes before the half-time whistle.
Hunt could have put Wanderers ahead in first-half stoppage time but his weakly-hit free-kick sailed well over Daniels’ goal from 20 yards out.
And the Baggies went into the interval wondering how they were not ahead after dominating much of the first 45 minutes.
Oldfield’s outfit returned from the break unchanged while the visitors made one substitution with Stephen Hunt making way for Zeli Ismail.
Wolves started the second half somewhat rejuvenated and Daniels needed to be alert to block Price from Sam Winnall’s throughball seven minutes after the restart.
Adil Nabi was again the focal point of Albion’s attack 60 seconds later and should have at least placed his left-foot effort on target from inside ten yards but instead struck over.
Moments later Roofe ran down the left wing and provided an excellent cross for Adil Nabi but his weak header fell straight into the arms of De Vries.
But Roofe took the derby by the scruff of the neck on 74 and blasted a right-foot thunderbolt into the top-right-hand corner from 25 yards.
The Baggies were good value for their lead and comfortably saw out the remaining 16 minutes of the fixture to collect all three points at The Hawthorns.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Daniels; Hurst, Atkinson, O’Neil, Smart; Birch, Allan; Roofe (Wedderburn 85), A Nabi, S Nabi (I Brown 75); Sawyers. Subs not used: Palmer (gk); Pace, Francis.
WOLVES (4-4-2): De Vries; Cranston, Tank, Ihiekwe (c), Reckord; Price, Evans, Whittall, Hunt (Ismail HT); McAlinden (Parry 75), Winnall. Subs not used: Cotman, Jakobsson, Kellermann.
GOALS: ALBION – Roofe (74)
REFEREE: M Dexter (Leicestershire)
ALBION STARMAN: Kemar Roofe