Reyes Cleary’s late double helped Albion’s PL2 side seal victory during their season opener against Newcastle United at the club’s training ground on Monday evening.
There was no reward for a dominant first-half display, and it was the hosts who fell behind after the break when a mix-up at the back allowed Michael Ndiweni to slot home against the run of play.
But fresh from signing his first professional deal at the club, forward Cleary provided two neat finishes in the closing stages to give Richard Beale’s men the perfect start to the new season.
Plenty of emphasis had gone into settling the Baggies' youngsters into a new system during the summer, and the hard work paid dividends throughout the opening exchanges.
Tom Fellows was denied from point-blank range, Cleary stung the palms of keeper Max Thompson, and the young shot-stopper’s poor positioning wasn’t punished by towering target man Mo Faal - who couldn’t guide his header into the net.
Further chances fell the way of skipper Jamie Andrews, Cleary, Fellows and Faal but barring a close-range scramble which Wales U18s keeper Ronnie Hollingshead managed to claim, United’s youngsters failed to threaten the Baggies’ goal.
The theme of Albion control continued into the second 45, with Fellows seeing a shot cleared off the line and Cleary flashing a good chance wide. And the hosts’ missed chances would go on to be punished when substitute Ndiweni blocked Hollingshead’s clearance to deflect it into the net for the opening goal of the game.
Despite suffering a disappointing setback Beale’s men maintained their persistent approach, and it paid off when Cleary evaded a challenge or two on the edge of the area before drilling a shot into the bottom corner to level proceedings with three minutes remaining.
And in the final minute of regular time, the turnaround was complete when England youth international Ethan Ingram’s superb cross-field ball was well controlled by Reyes, who took his time to smash in the winner over Thompson.
Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale's reaction:
“We were worthy of the win.
“We created a number of chances in the first half which we didn’t take and we know if you don’t take your chances, often the opposition do and they did.
“The lads showed good spirit, we got the two goals and it was nothing short of what the players have deserved for their hard work.”
Albion: Hollingshead; Ingram, Nguepissi, Ashworth, Shaw (Higgins 85); Andrews, Whitwell (Mfuamba 90+6), R.Richards (Wangusi 62); Fellows, Faal (Williams 90+6), Cleary.