Albion's youngsters kicked off their defence of the Premier League Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win over Watford in Group C on Thursday afternoon.
Two really smart finishes from Reyes Cleary and Harry Whitwell had the hosts in complete control at the break.
Captain Jamie Andrews then added a third before the hour and sub Jovan Malcolm tapped in a fourth late on as last season’s champions eased to victory in their opening cup match of the new campaign.
Richard Beale’s boys made the perfect start at Hednesford Town’s Keys Park and opened the scoring after just 12 minutes. Cleary received a pin-point cross from Ethan Ingram on the right, turned onto his left foot and drilled the ball into the bottom corner.
Forward Mo Faal had chances to increase Albion’s lead but headed wide with his first attempt before being twice denied by Watford goalkeeper Vicent Angelini.
Watford rarely threatened in the opening period, however striker Shaqai Forde did manage to work space for a strike on the edge of the box, only to see his shot fly over the bar.
At the other end, Andrews’ free-kick from the right drifted through a host of bodies and bounced back off the post before the Hornets cleared the danger.
Cleary could’ve then added a second but instead fired over the bar, however the Baggies wouldn’t have to wait much longer for a second.
The visitors headed a right-wing corner away to the edge of the box where Whitwell was waiting to slam home a ferocious drive, giving Angelini absolutely no chance.
Watford were intent on trying to find a way back into the cup clash after restart and Albion had Ted Cann to thank for keeping the score at 2-0. The Baggies stopper stood tall and made a fine save to thwart Emmanuel Adeyemo from close range after 56 minutes.
And it proved to be a costly miss because 60 seconds later, the hosts scored for the third time. Faal held off two defenders and teed up Andrews who powerfully struck the ball into the back of the net from 20 yards.
Albion’s youngsters went on the hunt for a fourth, with Ingram firing over from the right side of the box and substitute Rico Richards forcing Angelini into a stop after driving up to the edge of the area.
Another opportunity fell Ingram’s way in the final ten minutes of the match but the full-back saw his effort from 15 yards sail over the bar once more.
The Baggies did manage to find a fourth though and it came as a result of two substitutes combining in the box. Akeel Higgins beat his man on the right and played a square ball into the feet of Malcolm who had a simple tap in from six yards.
ALBION: Cann; Ingram, Nguepissi, Trialist, Ashworth, Shaw; Andrews ©, Whitwell (Mfuamba 70); Mitchell (Higgins 61), Faal (Malcolm 61), Cleary (R.Richards 61).
Subs: Hollingshead (GK).
*With thanks to GEvansPhotography for the match images