Eight Albion players gained important minutes for their respective loan sides over a busy weekend of football.
Caleb Taylor continued his starting role at the heart of Bolton Wanderers’ defence, along with full-back Zac Ashworth, and the pair showed great character to help Ian Evatt’s team come from behind with ten men to gain a point against Northampton Town.
After conceding to Kieron Bowie’s second-minute strike, things looked bleak for the Sky Bet League One promotion-chasers when George Thomason saw red on 27 minutes. Despite being reduced in number, the Lancashire outfit’s endeavour was rewarded after the break.
Carlos Mendes Gomes’ header with just under a quarter of the match remaining levelled matters at Sixfields Stadium, and 1-1 was how it stayed to keep Wanderers in the hunt for a promotion place on a day where centre-back Taylor played 76 minutes, while Ashworth lasted the full 90.
In England’s second tier, Karlan Grant was another Baggie who played the entirety of his side’s game on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the forward couldn’t stop Cardiff City falling to a 2-0 defeat to Preston North End in South Wales. First-half goals from Emil Riis and Ben Whiteman were enough to do the damage, meaning the Bluebirds are without a win on home soil since early December.
Fellow striker Mo Faal continued his starting berth leading the line for League Two outfit Walsall, but first-half efforts were a similar theme in the Gambian’s game against Newport County.
Three goals before the interval, courtesy of Bryn Morris, Will Evans and Henry William James Charsley, gave Faal’s team a mountain to climb at the Poundland Bescot Stadium and it was a challenge Mat Sadler’s group were unable to overcome.
Goalkeeper Owen Evans’ late red card made matters even worse for the hosts, with Albion’s young attacker playing more crucial minutes at senior level in the EFL - featuring for 82 of the 90 on Saturday afternoon prior to swapping places with Jamille Matt on the bench.
It was a disappointing weekend for fellow academy graduate Jamie Andrews, who was a second-half substitute in Grimsby Town’s 3-1 home defeat to Stockport County.
Like in Faal’s game, a trio of goals within the first 30 minutes meant there was too much to do for David Artell’s team, with the Mariners boss turning to Andrews straight from the restart after his half-time team talk.
Abo Eisa’s early effort on 52' gave the hosts hope of a turnaround, but County made sure it would be the game’s final goal - extending Town’s run without a win to five matches.
Ethan Ingram marked his return from injury by helping fourth-tier Salford City claim a share of the spoils from their clash with Swindon Town at the County Ground.
The full-back replaced Luke Garbutt on 71 minutes - his first appearance in over a month, and although it looked like George McEachran’s goal eight minutes from time had earned the south-west outfit the points, Salford struck late on to secure a 1-1 draw.
Callum Hendry’s goal in the second minute of stoppage time proved decisive, meaning Ingram’s loan club are now unbeaten in their last six league matches as they look to continue their push up the standings.
Outside the EFL, Aaron Harper-Bailey started his first game for Kidderminster Harriers in their Round of 16 FA Trophy clash with Peterborough Sports.
The centre-half played the full 90 as Phil Brown’s team conceded a 93rd-minute goal, condemning them to a 1-0 defeat and confirming their exit from the cup competition.
Finally, Ronnie Hollingshead kept his starting spot between the sticks for Southern Premier Central Division side Alvechurch.
It was a positive result for the Wales youth international’s loan side, who produced an impressive away showing to defeat Long Eaton United 4-2 with Yaw Ofosu, Ethan Patterson, Jaanai Gordon and Kartell Dawkins all on target in the victory.