Fryatt ends Baggies' unbeaten pre-season run
ALBION’S unbeaten pre-season run was ended by Matty Fryatt’s 25th-minute winner.
The former Walsall striker broke the deadlock in an otherwise tame opening 45 minutes by slotting home Chris Burke’s pull-back.
Alan Irvine’s side were far more impressive after the break and Forest keeper Karl Darlow had to pull off fine saves to deny Graham Dorrans, Craig Gardner and sub Kemar Roof.
Joleon Lescott and Chris Brunt both made their comebacks from injury in the second half but the former’s afternoon lasted only 35 minutes, when he had to be replaced by Liam O’Neil.
Irvine named four of the club’s six summer signings in his starting XI, with Andre Wisdom, Sebastien Pocognoli, Chris Baird and back-from-suspension Gardner all getting the chance to impress.
Fellow new boy Lescott (tight calf) and skipper Brunt (groin) returned to the bench but Gareth McAuley (tight calf), James Morrison (knee) and Stephane Sessegnon (international duty) were not involved.
Victor Anichebe, who has been struggling with illness, was among the subs while fellow Nigeria international Brown Ideye remained in his homeland awaiting his visa.
New Forest boss Stuart Pearce, overseeing the team’s final pre-season friendly before next weekend’s Championship opener against Blackpool, named former Baggie Simon Cox on the bench.
It was ex-Forest and England full-back Pearce’s first City Ground fixture since officially starting his new role last month and he was granted a hero’s welcome by the home fans as he made his way to the dugout moments before kick-off.
The game was still awaiting its first goalmouth action when referee Andre Marriner suffered an injury and was unable to continue. He was replaced in the seventh minute by fourth official A Humphries.
Backed by a vocal following from the West Midlands, the Baggies’ work ethic was plain to see but there was little for either set of supporters to get excited about during the opening 20 minutes.
In fact, the next moment of note came by way of another injury, with Forest midfielder Mikele Leigertwood having to leave the field in the 20th minute. He was replaced by Jorge Grant.
A shot was finally recorded in the 25th minute – and it yielded a goal. Albion’s left-flank was woefully exposed by a diagonal ball and Burke had all the time in the world to draw Ben Foster before squaring to Fryatt, who made no mistake from 12 yards.
Albion began to enjoy plenty of possession in the home half but with Irvine’s attacking options down to the bare bones, they struggled to get any change out of the home defence.
It wasn’t until the 37th minute that the visitors recorded their first – and only the game’s second – effort at goal, with Saido Berahino surging onto Youssouf Mulumbu’s pass before firing just over from 20 yards.
Forest finished the half on top. Fryatt was well off target from distance before Jonas Olsson had to make an awkward clearance over his own bar to nullify Jamie Paterson’s dangerous cross. From Andy Reid’s ensuing corner, Michael Mancienne headed wide.
Albion did manage one more effort on goal before the whistle, but Dorrans’ 25-yarder was blocked by Danny Fox.
Irvine rang two changes at the break, with Lescott, who acknowledged a warm round of applause from the away end, and Anichebe coming on for Olsson and Claudio Yacob respectively.
But neither sub had even touched the ball when a moment of Foster brilliance prevented Forest making it 2-0. Fryatt raced to the byline before picking out the unmarked Reid in the six-yard box and the Forest skipper was denied at point-blank range by the England keeper.
Albion showed more urgency after the interval and Darlow had to produce a brilliant finger-tip save to keep out Dorrans’ 20-yard drive after the Scotland international had dispossessed Reid.
The Baggies got right on top and Gardner was just wide with a flying header from a Dorrans centre. Moments later, Craig Dawson couldn’t quite stretch far enough to direct Pocognoli’s left-wing centre into an empty net.
Forest earned some respite when Fryatt volleyed just wide from a Reid centre, with the ball appearing to have gone out before the ex-Sunderland man had crossed.
Back came Albion and Gardner drew another fine save out of Darlow from Anichebe’s slide-rule pass.
The action began to swing from end to end and Pocognoli did well to divert wide Fryatt’s close-range volley from sub Chris Cohen’s left-wing cross.
Anichebe had looked lively since coming off the bench and saw a downward header cleared off the line from Dorrans’ corner.
Lescott caused concern when he pulled up ten minutes from time after clearing the ball into touch, but it appeared the substitution was more of a precautionary nature.
Albion kept pressing for an equaliser and sub Roofe twice went close in the 82nd minute. His second effort earned a corner and from Dorrans’ centre, Dawson headed just wide.
The Baggies’ final chance fell to Academy product Roofe, who could only fire straight at Darlow from Anichebe’s throughball.
FOREST (4-2-3-1): Darlow (De Vries 73); Hunt (Halford 73), Mancienne (Hobbs 63), Fox (Collins 82), Harding (Cohen 63); Leigertwood (Grant 21), Osborn; Burke (Laing 73), Reid © (Veldwijk 73), Paterson (McLaughlin 56); Fryatt (Mackie 73). Sub not used: Cox.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Foster; Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson © (Lescott HT, O’Neil 80), Pocognoli (Garmston 86); Baird, Yacob (Anichebe HT); Gardner, Mulumbu (Brunt 73), Dorrans; Berahino (Roofe 76). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), A Nabi.
GOAL: FOREST – Fryatt (25).
REFEREE: A Marriner (West Midlands).
ATTENDANCE: 6,423 (1,098 Albion fans).