Albion earned a place in Monday’s FA Cup fourth-round draw with a comfortable 1-0 win at Sky Bet Championship rivals Charlton.
Kenneth Zohore netted the only goal of the game, which was played out in front of a subdued atmosphere at The Valley, with Albion’s travelling contingent making up almost one third of the 6,426 attendance.
Slaven Bilić chose to mix youth with experience as he made 11 changes to the side that drew 1-1 against Leeds United on New Year’s Day, with Academy product Jack Fitzwater making his Baggies debut.
The boss’ bench also featured a host of young talent with loanee Chris Willock, 21, joining Rayhaan Tulloch, 18, Jamie Soule, 19, Rico Richards, 16, and Saul Shotton, 19, on the list of potential debutants.
The hosts started the game brightly and Brendan Wiredu narrowly missed out when his 20-yard volley whistled past the left upright inside two minutes.
After an otherwise-quiet opening half-hour the game sprung into life when Fitzwater fired a low 30-yard drive just wide, before Kyle Edwards and Charlie Austin saw goal-bound efforts blocked inside the area moments later.
But it was Zohore who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
The 6ft 2in striker drove forward from deep before getting on the end of a well-worked one-two with Kyle Edwards to fire through the legs of Dillon Phillips.
Chris Brunt and Rekeem Harper saw long-distance efforts go close but Albion could not add to their one-goal advantage before the interval.
Jonathan Bond was called into action for the first time 10 minutes after the restart and the 26-year-old stopper was more than up to the challenge - tipping a fierce Andre Green shot around the post.
The Baggies argued their case for a penalty just seconds later but Austin’s blocked header from Townsend’s left-wing cross was deemed not to have struck the arm of an Addicks defender.
Zohore, who worked tirelessly throughout, forced an opening for Brunt with an hour gone, but the skipper’s 20-yard strike flashed just wide.
In a second period dominated by Bilić’s men, Edwards could have put the game to bed, but blazed over from Townsend’s low ball in.
It was almost game, set and match to the Baggies on 76 minutes but the crossbar and a heroic Phillips save came to Charlton’s rescue. Brunt was first to be frustrated with his subtle dink clattering against the woodwork before Austin saw his rebound superbly parried by the Addicks keeper.
With 10 left Austin thought he’d sealed it but his right-foot drive from Brunt’s throughball struck the left upright and bounced to safety.
The hosts almost earned a replay in the final minute of normal time when Josh Davison struck the bar with an acrobatic effort from Toby Stevenson’s left-wing cross - but it was the Baggies who won the day and a place in the draw for the fourth round.
Albion: Bond; O’Shea, Fitzwater, Hegazi, Townsend; Edwards (Tulloch 90), Harper (Shotton 90), Barry, Brunt (c); Austin, Zohore.
Subs: Al Habsi; Krovinović, Willock, Soule, Richards.