Baggies suffer extra-time heartbreak
ALBION bowed out of the FA Youth Cup at the fourth round stage after a dramatic 4-2 extra-time defeat by Huddersfield at The Hawthorns.
Watched on by new head coach, Pepe Mel, the Baggies sent the game to extra-time when Joe Ward fired a late equaliser.
But the visitors silenced a resilient Baggies effort with three goals in the additional 30 minutes – with Phillip Billing’s own-goal proving nothing more than a consolation for the hosts.
Albion began the brighter of the two sides and should have been ahead inside four minutes.
Andre Wright found space on the right and sent a dangerous ball into the penalty area – but Ged Oldnall fired just over from close range.
The visitors had their first shot on target on 11.
Defender Bradley Carroll struck just wide of the left upright from 20 yards.
Huddersfield might have considered themselves unlucky not to be in front three minutes later when Danny Kane headed a whisker wide of Alex Palmer's right-hand post from Jake Charles' corner.
The Baggies continued to dominate possession at The Hawthorns but failed to create another first-half opportunity as heavy rain made playing conditions difficult.
The visitors created the first chance of the second half but Palmer comfortably saved Florent Bojaj's powerful 20-yard effort.
The Terriers were ahead on 57.
Ben Atkinson followed up Charles’ parried shot and lobbed Palmer from the edge of the area to give Town the lead.
Huddersfield should have doubled their advantage ten minutes later when Bojaj headed the wrong side of the right-hand post from Boyle’s ball into the box.
Albion fought hard for an equaliser and Ward came close on 72.
The attacking-midfielder sent a well-struck effort a foot over the bar from 20 yards.
Right-back Bradley Sweeney came closer still two minutes later – but his long-range strike whistled just past the left post after bouncing in front of Town stopper Sam Guthrie.
Guthrie provided another top save to deny George Cleet’s half-volley moments later and it looked as though it would not be Albion’s night.
As Saido Berahino watched from the stands at The Hawthorns, Ward provided a finish the first team’s topscorer would surely be proud of to level the scores.
The youngster rifled home a 25-yard strike to give the Baggies a deserved equaliser.
The visitors had one final chance to settle things in the last minute of normal time.
But Palmer came to Albion’s rescue as he raced off his line to block Charles from close range – sending the game to extra-time in the process.
Samir Nabi had the first shot of extra-time – but his tame left-foot shot flew high into the Birmingham Road End.
Huddersfield again took the lead only four minutes into extra-time.
Charles took advantage of some tired defending and fired under Palmer from six yards.
After 102 minutes of play Town finally gave themselves breathing space.
Bradley Carroll sent a curling right-foot shot inside the far post from the left corner of the penalty area to all-but seal a place in the competition's fifth round.
But there was yet more drama at The Hawthorns.
Phillip Billing headed into his own net from Joe Ward’s corner to give the Baggies hope.
Albion continued to pile on the pressure in the dying moments of extra-time but a second equaliser proved elusive.
Regan Booty put the game beyond doubt when he blasted past Palmer in the final minute of extra-time.
ALBION (4-4-1-1): Palmer; Sweeney, C Jones, Howkins, Smart; Wedderburn (Donnellan 74), S Nabi, Cleet (Pace 94), Wright; Ward; Oldnall (Hallahan 60). Subs not used: Buchanan, Ross.
HUDDERSFIELD: Guthrie, Carroll, Kane, Atkinson (Booty 91), Wilkinson, Boyle, Holmes, Billing, Bojaj (Pyke 112), Charles, Goddard. Subs: Hallwood, Pells, Boyle.
GOALS: ALBION – Ward (85), Billing og (105). Huddersfield – Atkinson (57), Charles (94), Carroll (102), Booty (120).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Ward (foul 66). HUDDERSFIELD – Boyle (foul 111), Wilkinson (foul 120).
REFEREE: Michael D’Aguilar (Staffordshire).
ALBION STARMAN: Joe Ward.