Friendly halted for an hour due to thunder storm
ALBION rounded off their pre-season tour of the USA with a 2-1 victory over Richmond Kickers in Virginia.
Tony Pulis will be delighted with the match fitness his Baggies side have gained during their three-match stay on the East Coast, amid scorching temperatures against a trio of mid-season teams.
James McClean’s spectacular, dipping strike from 25 yards looked to have proved the difference after just 14 minutes for a largely dominant Albion side, who enjoyed further chances to enhance their lead.
That was until Nate Shiffman’s controversial, albeit well-taken, volley five minutes from time levelled matters, with Albion down to 10 men after Jonas Olsson hobbled off due to injury and Gareth McAuley was not allowed to return with Pulis having already utilised all 20 players at his disposal.
But substitute Brown Ideye, late matchwinner in Friday’s 2-1 triumph at fellow USL Eastern Conference side Charleston Battery, again came to the rescue with a neat 89th-minute header from Stephane Sessegnon’s cross.
Pulis insisted the pre-season friendlies were all about building fitness and not results, although he will naturally have been pleased to have finished with two wins, coming after an opening defeat at Orlando.
The excitement all unfolded after play was halted for one hour with just five minutes on the clock due to a thunder storm over the City stadium.
Lightning persisted and both sets of players returned in their respective dressing rooms until play resumed.
When it did it was pouring rain that greeted the players rather than the scorching 34c that accompanied the initial kick-off.
And it was Albion who seemed to thrive in the conditions, more accustomed to the west midlands than Virginia, and duly took the lead in stunning style.
McClean picked up the ball on the right flank, turned inside on to his left foot and sent a super dipping strike over goalkeeper Ryan Taylor from distance.
Saido Berahino lashed an effort wide from distance but that was the last meaningful effort of a first half which Albion bossed.
The Baggies came close to a second within minutes of the restart but Alex Lee headed away Callum McManaman’s cross from just under the crossbar.
Pulis introduced Ideye, Sessegnon, Craig Gardner and James Morrison in the 51st minute.
Jason Yeisley lashed over a long-range strike for the home side before Ideye headed wide from Liam O’Neil’s cross when well placed.
Sessegnon’s long-range strike was well parried by Kickers ‘keeper Taylor before Ideye fired over from close range having exchanged a neat one-two with the Benin international.
William Yomby was next to spurn a golden opportunity as he headed over from six yards for the hosts.
Pulis introduced the remainder of his subs – all five – and it was two who combined when Adil Nabi headed over Sebastien Pocognoli’s corner from close range.
The lively Nabi sent a low effort narrowly wide before Richmond levelled in the 85th minute, much to Albion’s frustration.
Olsson was forced off and, with Albion down to 10 men unable to bring McAuley back on in his place, Lee crossed for Shiffman to volley past Jack Rose from eight yards.
Yet Ideye again came to Albion’s rescue to secure victory, heading home Sessegnon’s back-post cross with just a minute on the clock.
Albion: Myhill (Rose 75’), O'Neil (Fitzwater 69’), McAuley (Donnellan 74’), Olsson, Brunt (Gardner 51’), McClean (Pocognoli 74’), Fletcher (c) (Morrison 51’), Yacob, McManaman (Sessegnon 51’), Berahino (Ideye 51’), Anichebe (Nabi 75’).
Unavailable due to precautionary measures: Lescott, Dawson
GOALS: McClean 14’, Ideye 89’
BOOKED: McManaman (foul 42’), McClean (foul 69’)
RICHMOND GOAL: Shiffman 85’
Albion star man: Claudio Yacob