Baggies into Birmingham Senior Cup semi-final
JONAS Olsson stepped up his return to full fitness by completing 90 minutes, as Albion overcame a stubborn Hednesford side thanks to Alex Jones’ 51st minute winner.
Fellow first-team members Sebastien Pocognoli, Cristian Gamboa and Jason Davidson also played the whole game against the non-league outfit at Keys Park.
Former Baggies defender James Hurst, who captained the Vanarama Conference North side on the night, was the first player to try his luck, but his effort from 25-yards-out flew wide of Jack Rose’s upright.
The visitor’s first real chance of note came shortly after the half-hour mark, Cristian Gamboa’s in-swinging corner caused havoc inside the six-yard box with the ball falling at Sebastien Pocognoli’s feet, but the Belgium international’s shot was blocked by Ben Bailey.
Adil Nabi then saw his curling effort from 25-yards-out sail over the crossbar, after being set-up by his younger brother Samir.
But the deadlock was broken six minutes into the second-half, when Adil Nabi played in Alex Jones who finished calmly past Hednesford ‘keeper Dan Crane.
The Pitmen responded well to going behind, Nick Rushton forced Rose into a good save and Tom Thorley’s rasping half-volley sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
With the hosts pressing for an equaliser, the Baggies broke away in a flash and only a last-gasp challenge from Adam Thomas denied Adil Nabi a certain goal.
Marvin Robinson thought he had taken the game to extra-time, but his 88th minute header was ruled out for offside as the holders hung on to claim a place in the semi-final.
Albion’s hero on the night, Alex Jones was understandably delighted to bag the only goal of the game.
“It is a great feeling to score the winner,” said the forward.
“We have done well in this competition over the past few years and we want to keep that going, so it is good to get into the semi-final.
“The game was very different to what we usually come up against in the league.
“It was a great test for us as it closer to league football than Under-21 football is, so it was a great experience and we are delighted to get the win.”
Albion: Rose; Atkinson, Olsson, Howkins, Pocognoli; Birch, S. Nabi, A. Nabi; Davidson, Jones, Gamboa.
Unused subs: Palmer (GK), Cleet, Barrow, Pace, Wedderburn.