Kyle Howkins sent off in first-half against Blackburn
TEN-MAN Albion Under-21s suffered their third consecutive defeat in the Barclays U21 Premier League, as they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Blackburn Rovers at The Hawthorns.
The fixture’s decisive moment came in the 32nd minute when centre-back, Kyle Howkins, was dismissed for bringing down Rovers’ winger, Devarn Green, inside the penalty area.
Bradley Bauress stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick, in the process inflicting a damaging blow for Baggies’ promotion hopes.
The first opportunity of the match fell to Albion forward Alex Jones after 13 minutes, but his curling effort from just outside the penalty area grazed the wrong side of the near post.
Blackburn should have taken the lead in the 21st minute, but Dean Rittenberg fired wide from 10-yards-out with the goal gaping.
The Baggies suffered a major setback shortly after the half-hour mark, when Kyle Howkins was shown a straight red for bringing down Rovers’ winger Devarn Green inside the penalty area.
Goalkeeper Alex Palmer got a strong hand to Bradley Bauress’ penalty, but he was unable to prevent the ball finding the back of the net.
Adil Nabi was the first player to try his luck in the second-half, striking hard and low from 30-yards, only for Blackburn goalkeeper David Raya to get down to his right and make a comfortable stop.
Connor Mahoney then went close for the visitors in the 67th minute with a drilled effort from 25-yards.
Connor Thomson almost doubled his side’s lead six minutes from time, only for Palmer to make a fine save from his long-range drive.
The final chance of the game fell to Adil Nabi, but the 21-year-old blasted his half-volley from outside the penalty area high into the Brummie Road End.
Baggies’ Under-21 boss, James Shan, admitted he was disappointed for his players, but proud of their efforts.
“I am proud of the way the boys reacted to going down to ten men, and the way they frustrated Blackburn.
“I thought we controlled the game reasonably well until the sending off.
“We can have no complaints about the decision, it was a foul and Kyle was the last man so he had to go.
“The nature of the red card was disappointing as Darren Moore and I had spotted a few warning signs that Blackburn were getting in behind too easily through their direct approach.
“We had quite a simplistic plan in the second-half, to frustrate them and keep them in front of us, in the hope of grabbing a goal on the counter.
“Sadly it wasn’t to be, and I am really disappointed for the lads because they were honest and put in a shift tonight.”
Albion: Palmer, Atkinson, Cleet, Howkins, Smart, S.Nabi, O'Sullivan (Pace 71’), A.Nabi, Roberts (Ezewele 34’), Jones, Wedderburn (Birch 71’).
Unused subs: Ross, Barrow.