Club News

Clarke disappointed with defending

Boss also explains thinking behind key substitutions

STEVE Clarke admitted he was disappointed with the defending that led to Wigan snatching all three points in today’s five-goal thriller at The Hawthorns – but insisted: “It wasn’t our day.”

The Baggies twice took the lead with Shane Long opening the scoring thanks to his 11th goal of the season in the 29th minute and Gareth McAuley nodding home five minutes after the break - his third strike of the campaign.

In between Arouna Kone fired a first-half equaliser, while substitute James McArthur headed home on 58 with his first touch of the game and Callum McManaman tapped in the winner for the Latics ten minutes from time.

“It was an open, entertaining game for the people watching I would imagine but not so entertaining for our fans because we were on the wrong end of the five goals,” said Clarke.

“When you play Wigan you know it’s going to be an open expansive game.

“We decided to be open as well and have a go.

“I think in the first half we were in really good control of the game and scored a fantastic first goal.

“We then went to sleep a little bit and made the wrong decision defensively and didn’t defend a cross well.

“It gave Wigan life – a team that’s down the bottom always needs little crumbs to stay in the game and the equaliser just before half-time gave them that.

“I’m disappointed with the way we defended the crosses that came into our box.

“We have to defend better than that and we normally do.

“For us to lose three goals from open play is very unusual and very disappointing."

And the Albion chief felt his side were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the 78th minute when Athletic skipper Emmerson Boyce appeared to handle substitute Jerome Thomas’ cross in the box, with the scores level.

“Should we have had a penalty?” he added.

“It’s one of those should have, could have...

“The ball definitely strikes his hand and it probably stopped it going into the middle.

“It was an unusual body position away from his body.

“You can put that all together - but you need the breaks.

“I told the players afterwards that sometimes it’s not your day.

“I just got the feeling when the game went 2-2 that it wasn’t going to be our day and unfortunately that’s the way it turned out.

“The penalty decision was one of those that can go for you - but didn’t go for us.”

Clarke also revealed the Hawthorns hordes’ unfavourable reaction towards Peter Odemwingie warming up persuaded him to instead opt for Thomas and James Morrison to replace the tiring Romelu Lukaku and Markus Rosenberg in the 65th minute with the game standing at 2-2.

“The crowd let their feelings known,” he said.

“But Peter is still part of my squad and it’s something we’re going to have to deal with.

“We’ve got three games left.

“I’ve had injuries and a few suspensions.

“You could see young Izzy [Brown] was on the bench because the squad is quite threadbare.

“We continue to work as we’re working now.

“I still think Peter has got a part to play in some matches.

“We have three games left and we’ll deal with it from game to game.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, I was watching the game.

“I know when he went out to warm up there was a negative reaction from the crowd and at that time I’d asked Jerome, James and Peter to get themselves prepared.

“I was going to pick two from the three and, if I’m being honest, the crowd reaction probably made me go with James and Jerome.”