Berahino, Mulumbu and Anichebe fire Baggies to victory
THREE fine finishes from Saido Berahino, Youssouf Mulumbu and Victor Anichebe saw Albion round off their pre-season trip to California in style.
Berahino volleyed Albion ahead in the 13th minute and the result never looked in doubt at Bonney Field after Youssouf Mulumbu had steered home his second goal in three games on the half-hour mark.
Anichebe also grabbed his second in three pre-season fixtures with a 62nd-minute blockbuster before JJ Koval - a one-day loan signing from San Jose Earthquakes - scrambled home a consolation for the USL Pro side 17 minutes from time.
Alan Irvine’s men were well worth their second victory over Republic in five days, with the new head coach no doubt taking plenty of positives from the vibrant performance.
Andre Wisdom, Albion’s season-long loan signing from Liverpool, was handed an instant non-competitive debut at right-back, slotting in alongside fit-again centre-half Craig Dawson (thigh).
Ben Foster saw his first pre-season action between the sticks but Craig Gardner missed out after his red card against the same opposition four days earlier.
With Sacramento facing a league clash against Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday, boss Preki made nine changes.
The game kicked off in sweltering 37°C heat, guaranteeing the tourists a tough physical test.
But they started brightly and could have been ahead inside three minutes. Graham Dorrans spearheaded a fine move which resulted in Sebastien Pocognoli’s low cross flashing across goal, evading Anichebe’s outstretched boot by inches.
With the California State Fair in full swing behind Foster’s goal, and Republic’s Tower Bridge Battalion supporters’ group in full voice, Bonney Field was buzzing.
And the volume went up a notch in the 11th minute when Foster had to pull off a fine point-blank save to deny the unmarked Max Alvarez, who had connected with Peter Gilbert’s centre.
But it was Albion who broke the deadlock. Following Anichebe’s bustling run down the left, the ball flew across to Berahino who steered a brilliant volley into the bottom right-hand corner from 18 yards.
Albion looked comfortable and Anichebe thought he had won a penalty on 22 when he appeared to be tripped by Harrison Delbridge – but referee Michael Zapata waved play on.
Republic’s superior fitness levels enabled them to play at a high intensity and they came agonisingly close to levelling on 25.
A right-wing corner fell perfectly for Steven Evans, who saw his goalbound effort brilliantly blocked by Pocognoli. Evans pounced on the rebound and this time his low shot was cleared off the line by Mulumbu.
But Albion were 2-0 up on the half-hour mark. Berahino pressed Jack Avesyan before robbing the sub and squaring to Mulumbu, who calmly stroked the ball first-time into the top left-hand corner from 15 yards.
The Baggies got right on top and Dominik Jakubek had to push away Dorrans’ 20-yarder.
Albion went even closer on 36 when Berahino jinked in from the right before firing inches over from the tightest of angles.
Sacramento threatened again a minute later when Thomas Stewart ran at the back-tracking Baggies defence before firing well over from 20 yards.
Alvarez went much closer from distance on 43, with his effort fizzing just past Foster’s right-hand post.
But Albion finished the half on top, with the once-again impressive Dorrans cutting in from the left and seeing his deflected 20-yard drive loop onto the roof of Jakubek’s net.
Irvine made two changes at half-time, replacing Foster and Claudio Yacob with Luke Daniels and Liam O’Neil.
After a tame opening to the half, Anichebe put the outcome beyond any doubt on 62. The former Everton striker beat Jakubek all ends up with a ferocious 25-yard strike which flew into the top left-hand corner.
The Baggies went close again seven minutes later when Pocognoli curled a 20-yard free-kick just over.
Albion blotted their copybook, though, by conceding from a corner on 73, with Koval bundling the ball home in a goalmouth scramble.
The final chance of the game fell to Baggies sub Kemar Roofe, who could only head straight at Jakubek.
SACRAMENTO (4-4-2): Jukubek; Evans (Collins HT), Bond (Avesyan 21, G Padilla 37), Delbridge, Gilbert; Thompson, Koval, Gilberto (Gonzalez HT), Alvarez; Stewart (J Padilla HT), Bartlome (Gissie HT). Sub not used: Gleeson (GK).
ALBION (4-3-3): Foster (L Daniels HT); Wisdom, Dawson (D Daniels 69), Olsson (A Nabi 83), Pocognoli; Baird (Atkinson 85), Yacob (O'Neil HT), Mulumbu; Berahino (Roofe 63), Anichebe, Dorrans (Garmston 67).
GOALS: SACRAMENTO - Koval (73). ALBION – Berahino (13), Mulumbu (30), Anichebe (62).
BOOKINGS: SACRAMENTO - G Padilla (foul 68), Koval (foul 76).
REFEREE: M Zapata.