Anichebe and Mulumbu set up win at Greenhous Meadow
GOALS from Victor Anichebe and Youssouf Mulumbu set up a deserved win as Baggies fans got their first glimpse of Alan Irvine’s Albion.
After Saturday’s behind-closed-doors friendly win over Bury, this was Irvine’s first public showing as head coach and Anichebe, who served under the Scot when he was assistant manager at Everton, broke the deadlock on 12 minutes.
The visitors controlled the first half but were pegged back by Scott Vernon’s 30th-minute leveller.
However, Mulumbu restored the Baggies’ lead just four minutes later by polishing off a slick move from ten yards.
Chances were much harder to come by after the break, with both keepers rarely troubled.
Sebastien Pocognoli was handed an immediate start after joining from Hannover 96 on Saturday as Irvine blended experience with youth at Greenhous Meadow.
Fellow summer signings Craig Gardner and Chris Baird began on the bench while Joleon Lescott and central defensive colleague Gareth McAuley were not risked with tight calves.
There was a familiar face in the Shrewsbury line-up as Cameron Gayle, released by Albion at the end of last season, slotted in at right-back.
Albion soon took control against the League Two outfit and Shrews keeper Mark Halstrad had to pull off a fine one-handed save as early as the third minute to keep out Kemar Roofe’s 20-yard rocket.
But the Baggies, sporting their new home kit, were ahead on 11. Stephane Sessegnon wriggled his way to the by-line before picking out Anichebe, who firmly placed the ball home from ten yards.
Albion continued to keep the Town defence on the back foot and Claudio Yacob was disappointed with his wayward 18-yard finish from Sessegnon’s lay-off after Albion had won possession in the Shrewsbury half.
Boaz Myhill had barely touched the ball but was picking it out of his net on the half-hour mark. Baggies fan Ashley Vincent raced clear down the left before crossing for Vernon to slide home from close range.
However, the Shrews were level for only four minutes after another well-worked Baggies goal. Anichebe chipped the ball to Sessegnon whose exquisite cushioned pass found Mulumbu and the central-midfielder calmly slotted past Halstrad from ten yards.
Pocognoli had produced an assured debut display at left-back and the Belgium international picked out Berahino with a superb 41st-minute centre, only for last season’s top scorer to guide a free header over.
Irvine rang seven planned changes at half-time, which included the introduction of new recruits Baird and Gardner.
The latter was soon in the thick of it and picked out fellow half-time sub Graham Dorrans with a low cross, only for the Scotland international to fire back across the face of goal.
Shrewsbury carved out a golden chance of their own on 58 when sub James Collins set up Vincent in the box, but the forward’s tame effort was easily gathered by Myhill’s half-time replacement, Luke Daniels.
With the hosts also making mass changes at the break, the game became somewhat scrappy and chances dried up.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 74th minute that either keeper was called into action, with Shrews sub stopper Callum Burton parrying Berahino’s deflected shot at his near post.
SHREWSBURY (4-4-2): Halstrad; Gayle, Ellis, Knight-Percival, Demetriou; Curran, Wesolowski, Lawrence, Vincent; Akpa Akpro, Vernon. Subs: Caton, C Burton, Collins, Woods, Robinson, Asante, Clarke, Goldson, Smith, B Burton, Grandison.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Myhill (L Daniels HT); O’Neil (Baird HT), Dawson (O’Neil 87), Olsson (D Daniels HT), Pocognoli (Garmston HT); Mulumbu (Thorne HT), Yacob (Gardner HT); Berahino (O’Sullivan 79), Sessegnon (A Nabi 79), Roofe (Dorrans HT); Anichebe (Roofe 79). Sub not used: Atkinson.
GOALS: SHREWSBURY – Vernon (30). ALBION – Anichebe (12), Mulumbu (34).
REFEREE: C Sargeson (Staffordshire).
ATTENDANCE: 2,831 (640 Albion fans).