Another grim viewing as Albion are humbled by League One opposition.
Allardyce was true to his word and it was a much changed Albion side going into the clash against Blackpool. Whilst the side was not littered with fringe players he clearly targeted the game as one to try something different.
Gallagher, unsurprisingly kept his position in midfield and was joined by the returning Livermore and Ajayi who made the move into a defensive midfield. A role which he played on a number of occasions for Rotherham.
The attack was extremely fluid; Pereira started the game through the middle with Grosicki to his left and Krovinovic to his right. It was certainly an optimistic system that relied upon runners from midfield. With Pereira often probing for the ball, plenty of space was left for the likes of Gallagher to make late runs into the box. The first real chance of the game fell to Gallagher when he met a Pereira cut back which he glanced wide of the far post.
Following a tentative first five minutes Albion got a foothold over their opposition. The gap in quality certainly showed and with the midfield and attack constantly interchanging, Blackpool struggled to keep up with their passing moves. However, for all their neat work Gallagher’s early effort still remained the best chance so far.
With Albion still searching for the breakthrough Krovinovic took matters into his own hands and sent a long range effort just over the bar. Meanwhile Pereira’s influence started to grow, he drew a card-worthy foul from Ballard before neatly threading a ball through to Krovinovic whose shot this time round stung the hands of the keeper.
Having had 75% possession from the 30th minute mark and seemingly being in control Albion’s defensive troubles came back to haunt them. After a long clearance from Blackpool they found themselves on the counter. Lubala found the ball down the left side and sent an inviting ball across the box which eluded everyone, but Yates, who tapped home into an empty net.
1-0 Halftime.Embed from Getty Images
The break saw the introduction of Furlong for Gibbs but the system stayed constant.
It took just six minutes for Albion to get back into the game. Another short corner routine saw an intricate exchange of the ball before Grosicki’s cross was met excellently by Ajayi who headed well into the bottom corner.
1-1 Ajayi 52′
Pereira continued to drop deep allowing space for Grosicki to make runs in behind. On one occasion Grosicki found the arriving Gallagher who really should have done better than just lash the ball over the bar from about 12 yards. This would be Gallagher’s last involvement before being replaced by Edwards.
Despite chances for Albion coming and going, Blackpool remained resilient and opportune on the counter. Another quick move and deflection off Ajayi saw the ball fall into the path of the onrushing Madine who kept his composure and finished nicely past Button.
2-1 Madine 66′
With the game seemingly looking like it was coming to another dwindling end, Grosicki’s hopeful cross clattered against a Blackpool defender’s arm from what was no more than five yards. It was certainly a bit of luck that the baggies needed. Pereira made no mistake from the spot.
2-2 Pereira 80′Embed from Getty Images
Albion certainly saw the better of the ball across the 90 minutes but never looked commanding in defence. A draw was probably a fair result within the ninety as neither side really stamped their claim on the tie. On the positive, another 30 minutes gave Allardyce even more chance to assess his options.
2-2 90′, onto extra time…
The first half of extra time was one with little chances but if anyone looked the more threatening it was Blackpool with their sprightly substitutions making an impact.
Despite Edwards coming close with a low driven shot and Ajayi narrowly missing a Pereira cross, Blackpool looked the more likely to score and in truth looked the better outfit. It boiled down to penalties to decide the outcome of the tie and yet again Albion showed little hunger or fight and deservedly bow out to lower league opposition.
2-2 AET (3-2)
After just a few games into his stint as Albion boss Allardyce already looks to be running out of ideas. With no recognised striker in the squad the result looked inevitable from the start. Pereira did his best leading the line, but in his search for the ball gaps in the box were left, and Albion clearly lacked an out and out frontman. Questions will surely be asked. After a product of the Albion academy wrote his name in the stars last night why were opportunities not given to the likes of Cheikh Diaby to have a run out.
As it stands experience is proving for nothing when the players have little desire to play for the shirt. The penalties were lackadaisical at best and frankly it was a long, embarrassing night against opposition for which a win should have been a formality. The current squad is clearly not working, so what is there to lose by rolling the dice with a few youth players? Unfortunately, the outcome of this season looks inevitable so why not build for the future and at least go out without a whimper.
This mentality can only be instilled from the top and sadly Allardyce looks like he will be sinking the ship even further. With more changes to the back line than anywhere else, attacking ambition looks non existent and with Wolves on the horizon they will be purring at the opportunity to face a side so poor.Embed from Getty Images
Ratings: Button (4); Gibbs (4), Ivanovic (3), Bartley (4), Peltier (4); Gallagher (6), Ajayi (5), Livermore (4); Grosicki (6), Pereira (5), Krovinovic (5). Subs: Furlong (4), Kipre (4), Edwards (4)
West Brom: Button; Gibbs (Furlong 45′), Ivanovic (Kipre 71′), Bartley (Sawyers 61′), Peltier (O’Shea 95′); Gallagher (Edwards 61′), Ajayi, Livermore (C); Grosicki, Pereira, Krovinovic
Subs (not used): Lonergan, Harmon, Richards, Harper
Booked: Ajayi (16′), Gallagher (47′)
Blackpool: Maxwell; Turton, Ballard (Ekpiteta 90′), Gretarsson (Mitchell 99′), Husband; Kemp (Virtue-Thick), Ward (Robson 115′), Dougall, Lubala (Kaikai 75′); Madine, Yates
Subs (not used): Sims, Thorniley, Gabriel, Woodburn
Booked: Ballard (37′), Madine (80′)