West Bromwich Albion 2 - Watford 2

Date: Monday 1st April 2024 
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
(4-2-3-1) Palmer 5.9, Furlong 6.4, Ajayi 6.4, Bartley 5.5, Townsend 6.1, Yokuslu 5.6 (M'Vila, 67 6.1), Mowatt 5.6 (Reach, 67 6.4), Fellows 6.4 (Wallace, 71 5.9), Swift 5.0 (Diangana, 67 7.0), Johnston 5.1 (Weimann, 84 4.8), Thomas-Asante 6.1
Unused subs: Griffiths, Phillips, Chalobah, Pieters
Manager: Carlos Corberán  6.2
(3-4-1-2) Bachmann, Porteous, Sierralta, Hoedt, Andrews, Kayembe (Livermore, 86), Dele-Bashiru, Lewis, Koné (Asprilla, 55), Bayo (Rajovic, 56), Dennis (Martins, 74)
Unused subs: Hamer, Ince, Pollock, Morris
Scorers: Thomas-Asante (70), Furlong (91); Kayembe (51), Rajovic (66)
Referee: Gavin Ward 4.2
Attendance: 24,173   Home Fans 6.8   Away Fans 5.8
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 14

Brendan Clegg:

Second game for me watched on a phone, sitting in the shade on a sun lounger in Mexico.

Carlos rang the changes - understandable given the quick turn around, injury to Kipre and probably on merit for BTA.

After starting stronger Watford grew into the game. A big, powerful, hard and fast running side - it’s probably Ismael that’s kept them out of the top six and it showed.

The first half was a bit drab, but through hard work and pressing we should’ve gone in a goal up with BTA robbing the ball but finishing far too close to the keeper and from the rebound Swift teeing MJ who had to hit it hard first time on his left foot but didn’t and Watford got back to deflect his cut back and shot over.

Difficult to make an argument to change it at the break as we’d been alright… just too many cheap passes or sloppy passes that went behind MJ or Fellows instead of in front of them.

I also thought we missed the patience and ball playing of Kipre with both Semi and Bartley being trigger happy on cross field possession surrendering passes.

Finally, I thought the half was ruined by the referee who gave fouls or stopped play for some ridiculous play acting, missed a couple of clear fouls on us and allowed 4 or 5 fouls on from behind Asante to go without a booking.

A sloppy start after HT saw Watford take a deserved equaliser after a half cleared corner was hammered home through 3 players and the keeper from the edge of the box.

The introduction of Wallace gave us a spark but he was all energy and no brains - when sent away 2 v 1 with Asante his lobbed cross was really poor and gave our striker no chance.

As more subs lined up a very simple ball wide got beyond a hanging Furlong leg and was squared for an unmarked tap in.

M’Vila, Grady and (eyebrow raised) Reach replaced our midfield three and to their immense credit they swung the game our way through nothing more than keeping the ball far better than those they replaced. They played simple triangles, kept the ball moving and nipped in constantly to win it back.

Of the 3 Grady was the pick and earned motm for his cameo - bravely dropping to win the ball, going at people and committing them to create space.

His through ball to BTA was clever, disguised and well weighted enough but BTA smashed it home from an angle via a deflection and it was game on.

As we pressed for an equaliser Watford had plenty of opportunities to counter us and maybe could’ve put it to bed but we stuck at it.

As the clock entered injury time Grady came deep again, jinked himself away and as he was closed played a bit of a short pass to Furlong who stumbled as he changed direction backwards, controlled it on the swivel but then had enough to plant the ball in the top corner from about 25 yards.

Corberan celebrated like a fan and the players went straight to get the ball but there wasn’t any real final chance for us.

Overall it was a fair point. If Corberan probably changed too many in his starting 11 then he made up for it with the subs and in the end other results showed how difficult the Easter double header is.

A very minor concern or cautionary note that’s just there at the back of my mind. Corberan loves to tinker and adjust things, and there is a risk that although our squad is now much stronger with returning players it gives him too many options. There’s an argument that at this stage of the season you just need to start the same 11 who have the rhythm and cohesion to just smash the points out and grind through it, and leave your strong bench for game changers or to see results out. Who knows - had CC played his strongest 11 at Millwall and gone for it, maybe we’d have won there and lost today but have been a point better off.

A solid point we’d have taken all day once the second went in and another big game at Stoke coming up.

  • Palmer - 6 No chance with goals and made some routine stops.
  • Furlong - 6 Wayward passing today but stuck at it and some goal!
  • Ajayi - 7 Pace was really useful and carried it well.
  • Bartley - 5 I thought he was poor again. Leggy, lots of pointing and shouting, not great on the ball which he gets excused for but he’s a footballer at the end of the day.
  • Townsend - 6 Did enough but couldn’t find MJ in space.
  • Okay - 6 Had problems when they got goal side.
  • Mowatt - 6 Also struggled with their power and speed.
  • Fellows - 7 Bright and creative even though the final ball was off.
  • Swift - 6 Showed terrific feet at times but never hurt them.
  • MJ - 5 Bullied out of it and double marked, then we didn’t move it quick enough.
  • Asante - 7 Classic BTA. Caused them problems, not given enough protection, some really good play followed by some awful decision making but then a great goal. Earned it because he does run and fight constantly.
  • M’Vila - 6 Ticked it over well and aggressive.
  • Reach - 7 Fair play to him. Used the ball so well and won it back loads.
  • Grady - 8 Cameo was him at his best. Space appreciation, timing, fast feet and bravery.
  • Jed - 6 Was an outlet but frustrating quality.
  • Weimann - 6 ran about.