West Bromwich Albion 0 - Southampton 2

Date: Friday 16th February 2024 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
(4-2-3-1) Palmer 5.6, Furlong 4.7, Kipré 6.0, Pieters 4.9, Townsend 5.5, Yokuslu 5.9 (Chalobah, 81 3.7), Mowatt 6.1, Wallace 5.8 (Diangana, 65 4.5), Swift 4.2 (Marshall, 64 3.2), Johnston 6.2 (Reach, 65 3.2), Thomas-Asante 4.4 (Fellows, 45 5.4)
Unused subs: Griffiths, Ajayi, Weimann, Ávila Gordón
Manager: Carlos Corberán  3.6
(4-3-3) Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Stephens, Charles (Aribo, 58), Smallbone, Armstrong (Rothwell, 82), Armstrong (Brooks, 68), Mara (Sulemana, 82), Fraser (Edozie, 58)
Unused subs: Lumley, Manning, Amo-Ameyaw, Dibling
Scorers: Fraser (14), Brooks (73)
Referee: Sam Allison 2.4
Attendance: 25,066   Home Fans 5.3   Away Fans 6.5
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 17


Welcome Shilan Patel. Not the fairytale start we hoped for, but had we won, he might have been fooled into thinking he was inheriting a promotion squad. We were outplayed for most of the game and when we weren't we couldn't capitalize.

Two moments of incompetence by the officiating didn't help. Firstly Corboran, clearly intending to help, kept the ball in when it looked like it had gone out, and he was red-carded. Who was it who said 'the law is an ass'? Right on.

Secondly, the ref missed a clear hand ball in the area. Penalty!

I hope Mr. Patel hires well, shows fiscal constraint, and communicates with the Baggie community. Anything above that is a bonus.

Ancient Baggie:

Could easily have gotten a point out of that, Saints had 2 shots on target and scored twice. The ref was appalling. The red card unsettled the team and the crowd more than it should have.

Not sure why when we needed a goal to get back in the game Weimann didn't get a run?

If we're going to continue to try to play football from the back we definitely need two new fullbacks because as honest and committed as the they are they are a liability.

I still think we can get up through the playoffs. COYB

Brendan Clegg:

Just a bummer of a game for us where nothing went right, and where we needed to be on top form and a bit of luck to get a result it just wasn’t happening for us.

Starting 11 wasn’t our best available 11 for me; Ajayi and Fellows have to start.

Next, just a few players aren’t quite at their top level for us when we needed them to be.

Corberan gets sent off for a genuine and understandable mistake, not a deliberate attempt to seek advantage and we’d still have had the ball anyway - zero common sense applied.

A cheap goal conceded from a set piece albeit a superb finish - top quality for this level.

Not scoring when on top having rallied well, with what looked like a clear penalty denied and then one cleared off the line where someone should smash it home along with any player.

A poor HT sub - it was Swift who needed to make way for Fellows, MJ should’ve been moved to the middle and I’d have got Semi on too so we could squeeze them higher. If Weimann was injured then Asante should’ve stayed on too.

The baffling triple sub - I’m sorry but in no way are Reach or Marshall going to strengthen what was out there. From that point the game was gone and our left side had League 1 vibes about it.

And finally when we did get chances, like the Yok header or the free header after it, we just weren’t clinical enough.

Just a bad day all round at the start of hopefully a bright new dawn.

I expect Southampton to finish second, let’s get into the playoffs and see where that takes us. For all of the above points, they were a good side who defended and attacked well.

A cautionary word to Carlos… just cos you have a squad and 5 subs doesn’t mean you have to use them, tinker or be too clever. Take each game at a time and play your best 11.

  • Palmer - 6 Okay, one bad pass.
  • Furlong - 6 Decent enough but overhit a few passes
  • Kipre - 6 Decent but kept busy all night
  • Pieters - 5 Committed no doubt but his pace cost us 5-10 yards of pressure. A pot call I thought.
  • Townsend - 6 Neither goal his fault. Did okay.
  • Okay - 5 Just didn’t get going and sloppy
  • Mowatt - 6 Found his feet better as the game went on.
  • Wallace - 6 Useful. Now way I’d have taken him off.
  • Swift - 4 A shot and a set piece aside, too casual for me and we needed effort
  • MJ - 7 Our bright spark. Carried it well. Can’t believe he was subbed.
  • Asante - 5 Mot terrible and a few great link up moves to release MJ. Harsh and foolish taking him off so soon.
  • Fellows - 5 Supply wasn’t there
  • Marshall - 4 looked like a boy in a man’s world
  • Grady - 5 Not enough
  • Reach - 4 can’t understand this. Weakened us massively
  • Chalobah - 4 Did he touch the ball or lay a glove on them?

Kev Buckley:

Mother and Father arrive to collect adopted child: child fails to live up to promise

If the Ipswich game might have had some people wondering whether the gap between the top four and the rest, with Albion at the head of the rest, really was as big as it appeared on paper, then this game will have served to cement the reality of just how far behind we are.

Albion were out-thought, out-fought, out-played, and eventually lost to two magnificently worked goals - the likes of which it's hard to see us emulating - and that for me highlights the reason that the gap is, and will remain, so large.

Also worth pointing out that yet more "odd" substitutions by Corberan, the ones that see him take our best player out of the position in which they have been playing their best, didn't really help matters, allied to the fact that - even though my regular reader will be shocked to hear me asking for right-winger Fellows to be starting wide left - the manager chose to start Johnston ahead of Fellows.

Both sides pressed from the off but Soton, with a simple ball over the top three minutes in, and then after Kipre gave the ball away a minute later, had two really good chances; the first snuffed out by a covering midfielder getting back quicker than his centre-backs, the second wasted with a shot that went well over.

Corberan then decided, a minute later, to kick a ball that he thought had gone out, and duly was "sent off" after it had been deemed not to have.

I have seen reports in the media suggesting that having the manager relay thoughts from watching the CCTV coverage below the Halfords over the club's intercomm had "unsettled our players" but that's just bollocks - we were simply being outplayed by a much better side, as evidenced by us making yet another hash of playing out from the back on seven minutes, wherein Palmer had to go to ground on the edge of his box to quell the danger.

Even when we did manage to break out, as we did on eight, the final delivery, from the left, was awful.

We'd had a couple of chances to create something upfield before we coughed up the ball and conceded a corner to Southampton's break, and what a well worked corner it was. Ball gets played back to one unmarked player and he curls the cross over the players massed between the goalposts, to another unmrked player who's ghosted into the space outside our far post and he's able to execute a lovely cushioned finish back across Palmer and into the side netting.

The quarter-hour passed with free Southampton players running everywhere within our box before Palmer did well to fingertip a cross-shot away, before, five minutes later, another ball over the top saw an attacker free down the middle, but a poor first touch let us off the hook.

What seemed to be happening for them, as opposed to us, was that whenever we had the ball in the full-back areas, our passes into feet to players in the middle were never getting out beyond the reciever, whilst Soton's reciever always had a first-time offload option that kept the move going. Felt like a better organisation and understanding of the game plan.

Towards the end of the half we got back into it a little but chances went a-begging, first when Furlong couldn't control a great ball over the top, then when Swift tried to emulate his strike from the Ipswich game - this one from further out and curling off-target though.

Another move down the right, in stoppage time, saw Furlong ghost into space, but his shot, which hit a defender's arm, didn't result in us being awarded a penalty, and who knowns what might have happened had we gone in - as underserved as it would have been - on level terms.

What did happen was that, despite nearly all of the little we'd done well coming down our right-hand side, Corberan moved our best player, Wallace, from there, and stuck him up front, in place of BTA, so as to bring on Fellows, whilst leaving the totally anonymous Johnston over on the left. What was that supposed to change, let alone improve?

It wasn't as though BTA had been playing poorly either - he'd just had nothing to work with - and, as if to highlight that, Wallace ended up dropping deep centrally and then running direct at players to try and fashion a chance, resulting a free-kick 20-yards out and just left of centre: Swift's dead-ball effort not coming down enough to threaten the goal.

Corberan triple-subbed out the remainder of his starting front four as the hour approached, with front-man option Marshall on in place of make-weight Number 9 Wallace, and, bizzarely, two left-wingers, Reach and Diangana, coming on for Johnston and Swift.

Kipre got away with one on the edge of our box as seventy minutes loomed, but then, an hour after their first goal, Soton put the game to bed after we'd tried to come out with the ball, which we once again coughed up, and were made to pay as a result of some really slick pass and move action inside our own box once again.

Diangana would show some great footwork down on the right bye-line to tease out a left-footed cross but Yokuslu's forward run into space between the penalty spot and 6-yard-box saw his free header directed too close to the keeper. Maybe an Astle-like "always gets in the corners" effort from the Turk might well have made the last fifteen interesting but when Chalobah replaced Yokuslu with ten minutes left, he, and we wouldn't have a similar chance, as the away side were comfortably seeing out the game by then.

I think Corberan just got this one wrong and I don't think we can blame the CCTV coverage. He must have been able to see that we were having all the small amount of joy we were having down our right, and yet he never tried to change things to give us anything over on the left. Fellows for Johnston out there has to be the change, surely? Similarly, if you are going to take BTA off: why not bring Marshall, the forward replacement we've monitored and now gone out and brought in, on and not sacrifice Wallace?

Then again, if it was the CCTV coverage that was giving Corberan such a wrong impression of the game that he though moving Wallace off the right was the correct thing to do, at least with the potential new owner there in person, along with his partner, the manager can go up to him and ask that sorting that out be made a priority budget item!

Were we counting on getting anything from this one: probably not. Does it give the sides below us a chance to close the gap: certainly does. Did Mr Patel and his partner go down the Vine or the Sportsmans for a tikka and a naan before the game: seriously doubt it, but if they didn't, they will have missed the best bit of this fixture!