Club News

Irvine gets tough test he expected

Head coach brands Gardner's late red card harsh in friendly win

ALAN Irvine admitted his troops got the thorough examination he expected in their battling 1-0 friendly win at Sacramento Republic.

The Baggies took the lead in California through Graham Dorrans’ 13th-minute penalty and had chances to extend their lead.

But as Irvine’s men began to tire in only their third pre-season outing, the USL Pro League team got on top and it took a string of fine Boaz Myhill saves to deny them a draw.

A big plus point for head coach Irvine was that eight of his players got a full 90 minutes under their belts.

“It was always going to be a tough test because they’re right in the middle of their season,” said Irvine.

“Sacramento have played a lot of games and are obviously at their peak.

“The heat at the start of the game was also a problem.

“What did I expect out of it? When I spoke to the players before the game, it was again about getting some more fitness, and them playing 90 minutes, which a number of them did.

“For some of them, that was a big step up because they’ve only played 45 minutes so far.

“For example, Sebastien Pocognoli said to me afterwards that it’s the first full game he’s played for four months, which was obviously a big test for him.

“In fact, for most of the boys, that will have been their first full game for several months.”

Albion finished the game with ten men after Craig Gardner was harshly shown a second yellow card eight minutes from time for a foul on Sacramento sub Gilberto.

Referee Martin Buckman also booked three other players.

“I felt it was poor to send Craig off – it wasn’t a good decision,” reflected Irvine, who will bring Albion back to play the Republic a second time at Bonney Field on Friday (ko 3.30am BST/7.30pm PTZ).