Albion’s PL2 side returned to winning ways in the league thanks to Rico Richards’ late winner against Leeds United at the LNER Community Stadium on Monday night.
It was an action-packed second half with all three goals coming after the interval. Ray Tulloch’s penalty had given the away side a deserved lead, before Darko Gyabi lashed in a fine equaliser for the Whites.
However, it was Richard Beale’s boys who returned home with the spoils thanks to Richards’ cool finish in the last minute of regular time, as they closed in on the top spots in the Premier League 2 Division 2.
Leeds fielded a strong side against the Albion on a very, very cold evening in North Yorkshire, with Gyabi, Mateo Joseph and Perkins all featuring for the Whites’ first team the week before in their third-round Emirates FA Cup clash with Cardiff City.
Promise from the home side showed early on, with Michael Skubala’s men dominating the ball throughout proceedings, and Joseph in particular caused problems up front in his free role leading the line.
He hit the side netting, while Perkins and Gyabi both fired warning shots over Ted Cann’s goal as the Whites cemented their control on the game.
But a young Baggies side held their own under pressure in front of a noisy crowd in York, and they forged good openings of their own.
Ramello Mitchell nearly squeezed the ball home inside the area, Rico fired Alex Williams’ cross over the bar and the Welsh youth international nearly weaved his own way to goal.
Still, Leeds held firm and nearly went ahead before the interval when Perkins connected with an inviting cross before looping a header beyond Cann and into the net. But the offside flag saved Albion’s blushes, as they got in unscathed at the break.
The second half started just the like the first, with Ted having to be alive to produce a string of fine saves to keep United’s attacking stars at bay.
Beale’s men felt aggrieved not to have seen the hosts reduced to ten men when Williams was hauled down just outside the area, but there was no way of denying them a spot-kick and a dismissal later on when Richards was pushed to ground after going through one-on-one with Whites keeper Kristoffer Klaesson.
A red card was shown to the accused (Kris Moore) and Tulloch did the necessary, sending the shot-stopper the wrong way to silence the home crowd.
Albion’s defensive resolve was broken, though, when Gyabi rifled in a beauty from the edge of the area to restore parity, but the visitors made their man advantage count and left it late to steal the points.
Substitute Deago Nelson battled well to send Richards through on goal, and the No.10 made no mistake in curling the ball into the corner to make a long-haul trip worthwhile for the young Baggies, as they returned to the Black Country with a much-needed win.
Albion: Cann; Hall, Ingram ©, Harper-Bailey, Humphries; M.Richards, Tulloch, R.Richards; Williams (Mfuamba 59), Mitchell (Nelson 79), Higgins.
Substitutes: Hudd, Wangusi, Heard.