Samir Nabi on target for Baggies
ALBION’s Under-21 side kept their play-off hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Villa despite finishing the game with just nine men.
Samir Nabi scored the only goal in the sixth minute for the Baggies who had Callum McManaman and Callum Jones dismissed for two bookable offences each.
The result ensured a league double over Villa and a first league triumph since December.
The youngsters couldn’t have wished for a better beginning in a game which they simply had to win to stay in the running for a top five finish.
McManaman tricked his way into the penalty area and was brought down by Villa right-back Joshua Webb.
Nabi saw Matija Sarkic save his spot kick, but the midfielder reacted quickest to convert the rebound.
The away side responded well though and both Jack Grealish and Kevin Toner came close to equalising within 15 minutes of the opening goal.
The early stages were proving to be an entertaining watch for the spectators and Alex Pritchard almost increased Albion’s lead when he danced through two Villa defenders, before unleashing a curling effort from the edge of the box which Sarkic was equal to.
Alex Palmer then had to make two crucial stops within the space of three minutes, firstly pushing away a diving Keinan Davis header before tipping Adama Traore’s thumping effort over the crossbar on the half-hour mark.
Nabi had two efforts from range as the half came to a close but he was unable to double both his and his side’s lead.
Trailing by the odd goal, Villa started the second period brightly and only a goal-line clearance by Callum Jones denied Grealish after Palmer’s error.
Then, with just over an hour gone on the clock, the Baggies were reduced to ten men.
After already picking up a booking for a strong challenge on Traore, McManaman was shown a second yellow for simulation despite proclaiming his innocence.
But undeterred by their numerical disadvantage, Albion pushed for a second and Pritchard, Andre Wright and Nabi all went close.
There was still time for more drama as the final ten minutes approached.
Callum Jones, playing for the first time in 18 months after a long injury lay-off, became the second Albion player to be shown a red card after picking up his second booking of the evening for a late challenge on Khalid Abdou.
But the brave Baggies stood strong and saw out the closing stages to claim an important three points.
ALBION: Palmer, Fitzwater, McCourt, Donnellan, Jones, Field (Sweeney 82), S.Nabi, Pritchard (Roberts 89), Leko (Ward 82), McManaman, Wright.
Unused subs: Ross, Edwards.