Baggies suffer late heartbreak at The Hawthorns
ALBION suffered a late 2-0 defeat by Manchester United in the Barclays U21 Premier League at The Hawthorns this afternoon.
The Baggies matched the Reds in all areas of the pitch for 84 minutes of the fixture but two goals in as many minutes saw the visitors steal all three points.
Left-back Sean McGinty and substitute John Cofie were on the scoresheet as United earned their fourth victory of the Elite Group stage.
Development coach David Oldfield named a young Baggies side for the visit of the Reds, with only keeper Boaz Myhill a regular member of the first-team squad.
Both sides were measured during the opening exchanges as they each attempted to stamp their passing brand of football on the game.
United nearly opened the scoring on 12 minutes when Sean McGinty, who was left unmarked in the Albion penalty area, headed wide of the right-hand post from Adnan Januzaj’s corner.
On 22, Isaiah Brown showed a glimpse of the talent which led to his call-up to Steve Clarke’s first-team squad at Chelsea two weeks ago.
The 16-year-old midfielder weaved his way past two Reds defenders before his left-foot strike at goal was blocked by central-defender Michele Fornasier.
McGinty struck a powerful left-footed effort over the bar six minutes later as the visitors took their turn to carve out a goalscoring opportunity.
Adil Nabi’s 36th-minute shot narrowly passed Anders Lindegaard’s left-hand post after fine work from Aaron Birch split the United defence in two.
Boaz Myhill was on hand to deny Januzaj’s left-foot rocket five minutes before the interval – after Tyler Blackett’s powerful cross eluded a host of players inside the area.
Kemar Roofe could have put the Baggies ahead seven minutes after the restart but his weak header fell straight into the arms of Lindegaard from Wesley Atkinson’s right-wing cross.
United broke immediately but Myhill was live to the threat and comfortably parried Larnell Cole’s low drive from 20 yards.
Roofe’s 25-yard free-kick whistled just over the bar on 57 minutes as the two sides continued to search for the illusive first goal.
There was nearly a moment of controversy nine minutes later as referee Neil Radford, following consultation with his assistant, appeared to award a penalty to United after Roofe brought down Cole.
The man in black awarded a free-kick, before pointing to the spot, but reverted back to his original decision moments later – much to the annoyance of United’s attackers.
Substitute John Cofie, on for the impressive Blackett, ran onto Cole’s throughball before unleashing a powerful right-foot effort at Myhill on 77 - but the Wales international keeper turned the ball behind for a corner.
Charni Ekangamene's 20-yard effort smashed the crossbar three minutes later as United continued to push for a winner.
And the Reds finally got their goal on 84 when McGinty tapped home from Januzaj’s knockback.
Within two minutes United doubled their lead - Cofie smashing the ball past Myhill from the edge of the penalty area after Callum Jones failed to clear his lines.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Myhill, Smart, D Daniels (Francis 90+4), C Jones, Atkinson; Allan, Birch; Brown (Wedderburn 53 (S Nabi 84)), A Nabi, Roofe; Sawyers. Subs: Lewis (gk); Pace.
UNITED: Lindegaard; Vermijl, Blackett (Cofie 69), Thorpe, Fornasier, McGinty, Cole, Veseli, Januzaj (Lawrence 87), Ekangamene, Lingard (McCullough 90). Subs not used: Gollini, Daehli.
GOALS: UNITED - McGinty (84), Cofie (86)
BOOKINGS: UNITED – Blackett (foul 45+1) ALBION – Atkinson (60)
REFEREE: Neil Radford (Worcestershire)
ALBION STARMAN: D Daniels