Baggies exit Emirates FA Cup to Rams
- Phillips curls home from 20 yards (35)
- Bent levels from distance (51)
- Ince free-kick wins it for Rams (54)
- Attendance: 25,288
- Albion Star Man: Matt Phillips
ALBION exited The Emirates FA Cup as they suffered a disappointing 2-1 third-round defeat to Derby County at The Hawthorns.
The Baggies deservedly led at half-time courtesy of a fine 20-yard strike from the in-form Matt Phillips, who has now registered five goals and seven assists in his last 11 games.
However, out of nowhere, the Championship visitors struck twice in a matter of four second-half minutes as Darren Bent, from distance, and then Tom Ince's free-kick turned the game on its head.
The Baggies pushed in search of a leveller, Craig Dawson hitting a post, but it was not to be as the Rams held firm to instead book their place in the fourth round of the competition and end Albion's progress.
Home fans thought the deadlock had been broken as early as the fourth minute but, having been gifted the ball courtesy of a poor clearance from former Baggies goalkeeper Scott Carson, Salomon Rondon could only watch as Richard Keogh raced back to clear his goalbound effort off the line.
Phillips did superbly well to nick the ball off the toe of Ince at the other end as he prepared to pull the trigger, before Boaz Myhill pushed behind Abdoul Camara's deflected effort.
Yet Albion imposed themselves further on the game as the first half progressed and deserved the breakthrough when it came in the 35th minute.
James McClean, pressing a Rams defence who were keen to play out from the back at every opportunity, forced a mis-placed pass into the path of Phillips, who surged forward, duly changed on to his right foot, and curled home a delightful effort from 20 yards.
The summer signing was in the mood and his surging run almost set up James Morrison for a second shortly before half-time.
McAuley headed over when well placed at the start of the second period before Rondon then went close. Yet out of nowhere the visitors led thanks to two goals in four minutes.
Bent was first as he rifled an effort past Myhill from distance before Ince sent a free-kick over Albion's wall and into the net - turning the game around.
Albion launched a response and Dawson headed against a post, while the visitors continued to pose a threat in search of a third, Myhill saving from Ince and Bent.
Tony Pulis turned to Hal Robson-Kanu and Nacer Chadli off the bench, the latter forcing a save from Carson, but the home side could find no way through, Rondon heading wide in the closing stages before again being thwarted.
Albion: Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson (Chadli 78), Galloway (Robson-Kanu 68); Yacob, Fletcher (c); Phillips, Morrison, McClean; Rondon.
Subs: Foster; Gardner, Harper, Field, Wilson.
BOOKED: Morrison (foul, 53)
Derby: Carson, Baird, Keogh (C), Shackell, Hanson (Pearce 82); de Sart, Bryson (Vernam 89), Johnson; Ince, Camara (Vydra 86), Bent.
Subs: Mitchell, Russell, Weimann, Guy.
BOOKED: Johnson (foul, 90+2), Ince (foul, 90+5)
Referee: Jonathan Moss (West Yorkshire)