West Bromwich Albion 2 - Huddersfield Town 2

Date: Friday 11th March 2022 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
WBA:
4.4
(3-5-2) Johnstone 2.4, Ajayi 5.4, Bartley 3.6 (Diangana, 84 5.7), Clarke 5.3, Furlong 3.9 (Carroll, 69 6.9), Gardner-Hickman 6.5, Livermore 4.7, Mowatt 3.9, Townsend 4.9, Robinson 3.6, Grant 5.0
Unused subs: Button, O'Shea, Molumby, Reach, Kipré
Manager: Steve Bruce 4.9
Huddersfield:
6.1
(4-2-3-1) Nicholls, Turton, Pearson, Lees, Toffolo, Hogg, Russell, Thomas (Anjorin, 90), Sinani (Colwill, 78), O'Brien, Ward (Rhodes, 90)
Unused subs: Blackman, Ávila, Holmes, Eiting
Scorers: Grant (84 pen), Carroll (85); Ward (24, 74)
Referee: Matt Donohue 4.5
Attendance: 20,846   Home Fans 5.9   Away Fans 5.8
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 17

Brendan Clegg:

An unchanged side was understandable following our lesser spotted victory in our last outing and I felt positive enough tonight going to the ground.

It seemed that others felt the same as, after kick-off, the atmosphere was pretty good and the players responded by getting on the front foot early and having the better of the play, forcing a few corners, pressure and a decent effort from Mowatt.

But Huddersfield impressed me with their shape, organisation and movement and they began closing us off and dominating the ball.

This is where our 3-5-2 is a problem because our spare man is always a CB and when we do get it wide to the wingbacks they’re very deep with nothing ahead of them down the line. We couldn’t keep the ball well enough unless we went backwards and, crucially, we couldn’t get the ball to TGH or Robinson in their half.

But it was still entertaining enough and well matched until SJ gifted them a goal through casual play. I also thought most of his kicks and throws were casual or lazy all game… but then he doesn’t really want to be here does he?

After the goal we really struggled to rally but there was effort - just a lack of options - and as the half closed out it looked like changes would be needed to give us a chance. I thought some of the boos at HT were a bit harsh. I’d have gone something like 4-5-1 for a bit with Grady on for Bartley, and TGH wide right.

2nd half and we came out as we were with a bit of early drive, TGH smashing one just wide, but then it was very much the same and frustration started to mount in the crowd as our players lacked ideas and their urgency slipped away.

I thought Bruce left it too long and when Carroll did come on it was Furlong who made way. I am not in the band of people who think TGH is a right back or right wing back because he has a lot to learn defensively, but it did make sense to bring Carroll’s aggression and strength on. It looked like we went 3-4-1-2 with Robinson in behind.

Unfortunately he seemed to be fouled (not given) when way too deep receiving a ball and Huddersfield broke with a quick counter with our defence all over the place, SJ spilled a shot straight to the centre of the six yard box for a tap-in and the ground began to empty.

The players looked down but plugged away and got a lifeline in the last 10 minutes when a penalty was given (I couldn’t see why) and Grant slotted it home.

The Diangana for Bartley change finally happened and he went out on the left although I couldn’t tell you the formation at that point as we had no equivalent winger on the right as Robinson stayed central. Suddenly though we had width, options and momentum and as we pressed and created, we worked the ball right and Ajayi steamed up the pitch to compensate for nobody else being there. His lofted cross (right foot, right wing) was the kind of service we just haven’t been able to give Carroll and he gobbled it up.

The win was on and we looked like we might do it when Grant rattled the bar from a position he probably should’ve scored from. Huddersfield obviously have resilience though and another casual tip over from SJ gave them a corner from which Carroll headed off the line.

The whistle went and everyone went home far happier. Credit to Bruce for at least changing it albeit too late and the players mostly dug out a result. It will be harder on Tuesday and I do think the 3-5-2 needs another review, especially if we go behind.

On the WM phone-in on the drive home there was lots of clamour for AC to start but I thought this 20 minute cameo demonstrated the best way to use him, and when he’s on it has to be high up the pitch with wingers to get crosses in.

  • SJ - 3 Everything about it was poor and casual.
  • Ajayi - 6 They didn’t create much and he got an assist, but we did sit too deep at times.
  • Bartley - 4 Looked spare, uncomfortable and a bit leggy.
  • Clarke - 5 Okay, had very few options to pass to.
  • Furlong - 6 Got through a lot of running and put crosses in.
  • TGH - 6 Showed flashes but there was little space to get him on the ball.
  • Livermore - 6 Probably the pick of our players on the night. Solid and always available, some good pings but needed more options.
  • Mowatt - 5 Good effort early on, he vanishes for long spells.
  • Townsend - 5 Mixed bag. Some very cheap errors, looked much happier with Diagana ahead of him.
  • Robinson - 4 Couldn’t get into it but kept looking for the ball. Weak.
  • Grant - 5 Little service, needs to stay in the box not drift, but stuck the penalty away and looked a threat thereafter.
  • Carroll - 7 Really deserved that goal. I’d resist the temptation to start him because of mobility and how he wanes but you cannot fault his commitment and desire. If only we could transfuse it to a few others.
  • Diagana - 5 Actually a bit rubbish in the ball but created space and an outlet.