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West Brom player ratings v Swansea after an uninspiring defeat

West Brom were condemned to their second league defeat of the season at the hands of Swansea City on Wednesday night as they fell out of the automatic promotion places.

Karlan Grant’s sixth goal of the season inside a minute opened the scoring and gave the Baggies the perfect start, but Joel Piroe and Jamie Paterson both struck to inflict a loss in South Wales – their second in three matches.

It was the most perfect start, akin to the one at Blackburn Rovers in August. It was just a glimpse of what Valerien Ismael had been hoping to see from his players, in this battle of the playing styles.

Albion swarmed all over their hosts from kick off and forced them into errors. Kyle Naughton and then Jamie Paterson panicked in the wake of the rampaging Jake Livermore, who retrieved possession for his side. From there, the front three combined to devastating effect; Matt Phillips slipped the ball out wide to Callum Robinson, who proceeded to square superbly for the waiting Grant, who applied the finishing touch. Some way to celebrate the birth of your child over the weekend, and some way to kick off proceedings here.

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In truth, the first half was a bit of a non-event from there in terms of chances in either goal-mouth. While the football as a whole might’ve been pretty dull, it was actually a rather interesting chess match between Ismael and Russell Martin, whose side dominated the ball, completed far more passes and tried to play their way around the Albion press.

That all said, they barely bothered Sam Johnstone at all. Defensively, Albion were on it. The offside trap was sprung time and again and Johnstone was off his line to boot any danger into the stands as and when.

Going forwards, they left a fair bit to be desired, aesthetically. The passing was largely very loose, with Ismael himself even showing signs of frustration on the touch-line as the ball continued to return to a Swansea player without too much effort on their part.

Martin introduced Olivier Ntcham, the former Celtic midfielder, at half time and that delivered more impetus from the hosts. Albion, in truth, never really came back out of the dressing room after the interval; as quickly as they’d started the game, Swansea roared back at the start of the second 45.

Ntcham on a couple of occasions struck wide when well placed, but the equaliser came from a more reliable source – that of Piroe. Comfortably the club’s top scorer this season, he beat the offside trap and the high line to collect a lofted ball, shrug off a last-ditch attempt from Clarke and roll the ball past Johnstone. You couldn’t really argue that they deserved parity at that stage.

Phillips forced Ben Hamer into a smart save when his strike from distance was tipped onto the bar, but Albion didn’t spring immediately into life.

With the game having the feel of a 1-1 draw, a little individual magic or a mistake would probably decide the result – in the end, it was a bit of both, and both in Swansea’s favour. Furlong’s undercooked back-pass was collected by Paterson, whose jinking run past Ajayi was finished off with a fine effort past Johnstone.

This game of chess, between two sides in white and black, reflected the very different approaches of both managers. On this occasion, the possession based, ball-on-the-floor side prevailed.

Johnstone 5

Kicking was a wayward, but he was barely troubled in the first half and showed good signs of awareness to rush off his line and clear danger as and when. Little chance with Piroe’s leveller.

Furlong 3

Haphazard in the first half. Seemed rushed when on the ball and a couple of his otherwise routine passes weren’t accurate and invited pressure. Booked for catching Grimes late. Athletic as ever down the right but not as rhythmic as normal. Back pass intended for Ajayi was leapt upon and from it Paterson netted.

West Bromwich Albion's Darnell Furlong after receiving treatment for a blow to the nose
West Bromwich Albion’s Darnell Furlong

Ajayi 6

Cut out the danger of Piroe on one occasion as the Dutch forward looked time and again to beat the offside trap in the second half, but his passing out from the back was panicky. Done too easily by the rampant Paterson as he marched on to score the winner but his agility got Albion out of bother.

Bartley 4

Back at his old haunt, Bartley struggled with the lively Piroe’s movement and that of Paterson and Smith in behind him.

Clarke 6

Tremendous covering from Clarke to deny Piroe – even though the striker had already been flagged for offside, it was excellent defending. One of the better players again in an Albion shirt but could do nothing to stop Piroe levelling.

Townsend 6

Calm and composed, not as influential as he was on Friday night down the left hand side and his crosses were often into the path of nobody. Tended to have the measure of the tricky Ethan Laird.

Livermore 7*

From the first whistle, Livermore led from the front here. Tigerish application which won the ball high inside 50 seconds and it led to the goal. Sometimes he’s overly enthusiastic and concedes fouls but in the absence of Alex Mowatt, Livermore shone as the primary midfielder. Will miss the weekend after his fifth booking.

Jake Livermore of West Bromwich Albion
Jake Livermore of West Bromwich Albion

Molumby 6

Granted his first start after an impressive showing against Blues, and in the wake of Mowatt’s injury. Ran himself into the ground for 78 minutes. Needs a little more composure on the ball.

Grant 6

Tremendous finish inside a minute to continue his excellent recent run of scoring. His confidence in front of goal right now is soaring. Albion have been relying on his goals, because at the moment they’re not creating enough.

Phillips 4

Bar his role in the build up to Albion’s goal, there was little that Phillips was able to muster in the final third, bar one shot from distance that Hamer had to tip onto the bar.

Matt Phillips of West Bromwich Albion
Matt Phillips of West Bromwich Albion

Robinson 4

A little better from Robinson than his 45 minutes on Friday night. Not a natural target man to lead the line, he gives what he has at the front end of the pitch and produced a moment of genuine quality to pick out Grant. Not much else came off for him before he was hooked.

Substitutes

Hugill (for Robinson 56) 4

Plenty of running, but not so much as a sniff of a chance in front of goal.

Snodgrass (for Molumby 79)

Reach (for Phillips 84)

Substitutes not used: Button, Kipre, Bryan, Gardner-Hickman

Swansea City: Hamer; Laird, Bennett, Naughton, Cabango (Williams 86), Bidwell (Latibeaudiere 86), Downes (Ntcham 45), Grimes, Smith, Paterson, Piroe

Substitutes not used: Benda, Whittaker, Cullen, Walsh

GOALS

Swansea City – Piroe 61, Paterson 83; Albion – Grant 1

The ref: Mr Simon Hooper

Attendance: 16,649

Up next: Bristol City at home on Saturday 23 October, for a 3pm kick off



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