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‘A big question mark’ West Brom player ratings as below par Albion fall to Millwall


West Brom are out of the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle after Millwall proved to be their undoing once again.

Goals in either half from Tom Bradshaw and Aiden O’Brien cancelled out a debut goal from Charlie Austin, who had handed Albion the lead inside the first ten minutes.

Slaven Bilic made nine changes to the side that had been frustrated by the same opposition on Saturday.

He handed debuts to new signings Austin and Grady Diangana, while Dara O’Shea and Darnell Furlong were also given opportunities to shine.

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The Baggies started like a house on fire; enjoying plenty of the ball, the ball came to Diangana on the left and he obeyed orders from the fans to shoot.

He caught Luke Steele out – the Millwall stopper could only parry the ball onto the bar and then could only watch from the ground as Austin popped up and nodded the loose ball in from no more than a yard.

Once Millwall got a hold of the game, though, they looked comfortable.

Set-pieces proved to be Albion’s undoing, on both occasions; Bradshaw flicked on a Jiri Skalak free kick before the half hour mark, and then O’Brien bundled in the winner before the hour with Albion’s defence static.

In between Ajayi thought he’d restored the hosts’ lead when he headed home a Chris Brunt corner – the referee spotted something in the build up and it was chalked off.

Here is how we rated the players.

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Bond 6

A quite magnificent double save kept the scores level at the end of the first half; he blocked a stinging shot from close range and then back-tracked to tip over a goalbound effort from distance.

The second goal was a messy one which resulted in him having the ball slipped beneath him.

Furlong 5.5

Looks a talent. Furlong thrives on getting forward and was able to skin Murray Wallace once or twice. His crossing wasn’t always accurate, but occasionally asked questions.

Intriguing battle going on at right-back now, where Albion have been weak for so long.

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Ajayi 5

The senior head in the back-line here, a back-line that proved so susceptible to conceding at set-pieces.

No concerns with the ball at his feet, for you were only truly alarmed when the visitors were awarded a dangerous  free kick or corner.

Headed home a powerful goal that was ruled out, and then missed a last gasp chance to level.

O’Shea 6

His first appearance for Albion, so it was a big night for the young Irishman.

He’s benefitted from a season in League Two with Exeter though – you could tell. Here he won a number of challenges and demonstrated his love of crunching tackle.

No nonsense, he cleared the Halfords Lane with one of his clearances.

 

Townsend 5

Stepped into the breach in place of the rested Kieran Gibbs. Was given lots to think about by Aiden O’Brien in the first half.

Plenty of heart and determination, though. Bombed forwards throughout.

Harper 5

Ticked things over in midfield alongside captain Brunt, and provided the legs to get around the pitch and join in attacks.

Had one wicked shot from distance deflected over.

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Brunt 6.5

Whereas he was given a cameo on the wing on Saturday, here he returned to his modern day role in fron of defence.

Began attacks, while letting the younger players around him carry the ball forwards, and he broke up play.

His delivery for the corner of Ajayi’s disallowed goal was perfect.

Burke 4

A big question mark remains over Burke, in many respects. Where is the talent and potential that the club saw fit to invest so heavily in?

What is his best position? This was another performance where you were left raising eyebrows rather than the alternative.

Edwards 5

Lively again, but ran out of steam here. He’s now started three games in succession which, at this level, is likely to take it out of you when you’ve previously only enjoyed cameos.

Tried to make things happen on the left in the first half but faded in the second.

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Diangana 6

Another debutant, and he showed glimpses over on the left hand side.

Tested Steele with a thumping drive in the build up to Austin’s goal, and often showed a quick turn of pace moving forwards – and indeed in a defensive capacity.

Austin 6.5

What a start to his Albion career. A goal after a matter of minutes that displayed the predatory qualities he’s been brought to the club to flaunt.

Looked eager; I suppose after a lack of football under Ralph Hasenhuttl at Southampton he has the bug.

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Subs

Pereira (for Austin 60) – 6

Welcome to English football. Roughed up once or twice as he tried to assert himself.

Once he’d got to grips, he showed off his pace. An exciting prospect.

Krovinovic (for Edwards 60) – 6

Classy. Tried to affect the game to no avail. Bigger fish to fry on Saturday.

Sawyers (for Diangana 70) – 5

In a more advanced role when he entered the fray. Like Krovinovic, tried and failed to change the score-line.

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Subs not used: Johnstone, Ferguson, Fitzwater, Willock

Millwall : Steele, McCarthy, M Wallace, Hutchinson, Ferguson, Leonard, O’Brien (Romeo 64), Molumby (Williams 63), Skalak, Bradshaw (Thompson 79), Bodvarsson

Subs not used: Bialkowski, Cooper, Smith, Mahoney

GOALS

Albion – Austin 9; Millwall – Bradshaw 28, Bodvarsson 55

The referee: Ross Joyce

Attendance : 10,704 (388 away)





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