Baggies suffer disappointing derby loss
YOUSSOUF Mulumbu completed 72 minutes of Albion's Under-21 3-0 defeat at Villa on Monday afternoon in the Barclays U21 Premier League.
Forward Victor Anichebe also played 45 minutes on his return to action, following a month-long lay-off through a groin injury.
However Cristian Gamboa was forced off shortly before half-time after suffering a slight hamstring knock - the Costa Rica international is due to be assessed on Tuesday morning.
Villa - who included first-team members Andi Weimann, Carlos Sanchez, Carles Gil, Jed Steer and Jack Grealish in their starting line-up - were ahead as early as the fifth minute, when Graham Burke ghosted into the penalty area and tapped home Carles Gil’s cross.
Jack Grealish almost doubled his side’s lead eight minutes later, but Albion ‘keeper Alex Palmer made a fine save from the winger’s 25-yard strike.
The Baggies’ first chance came in the 17th minute when Aaron Birch attempted a cheeky chip over Jed Steer’s head from 30-yards, but his effort was comfortably saved.
Youssouf Mulumbu was next to try his luck, only to his header from Adil Nabi's corner sail over the bar.
Nabi then met a cross delivered by his younger brother, Samir, but the forward failed to make a clean connection with a volley from inside the penalty area.
The hosts added a second just nine minutes into the second-half, Jack Grealish firing home into the bottom corner from 18-yards-out.
Albion thought they had pulled one back on the hour-mark when substitute Alex Jones, who replaced Anichebe at the break, rounded Steer and finished into an empty net, only for the goal to be chalked off for offside.
The home side put the game to bed in the 72nd minute when Joshua Webb smashed home from just two-yards-out, following a scramble inside the penalty area after Henry Cowans’ corner.
Adil Nabi almost grabbed a consolation for James Shan’s men, but Steer pushed over his fierce attempt from 20-yards.
It was a result and a performance which left the Under-21 boss extremely frustrated.
“I am bitterly disappointed, to summarise very quickly I thought that Villa wanted it more than us today,” said Shan.
“They showed more desire and more energy and you could tell that they really wanted to win the game, which I didn’t see from our players.
“I’ve just told the boys in the dressing room that I am hurt, disappointed, frustrated and angry, I just hope that the players are feeling the same.
“At 1-0 down going into the second-half we all hoped that we would be able to pick up our performance.
“Tactically the game was quite easy for us to get back into, they pressed high up the pitch and that left space in behind the back four, but we didn’t exploit it.
“We need to make sure that all the hard work that we have put in during the season up to this point, doesn’t go to waste.”
Albion: Palmer, Gamboa (Wedderburn 40’), Cleet, Howkins, Smart, Birch, S.Nabi, Mulumbu (Barrow 72’), A.Nabi, Leko, Anichebe (Jones HT).
Unused subs: Ross, O’Sullivan.