Three games in, three defeats. The Baggies Carling Cup Campaign was ended at the first hurdle by League One opposition in the form of Hartlepool. After deservedly forcing a high-tempo game into extra time through a beautiful 25-yard curling Robert Koren strike (87), extra time proved too much for the Albion who conceded two goals in the first period and ultimately crashed out.
As expected, Tony Mowbray made several changes to the side that started against Everton, although this by no means meant the we were playing a weakened side – two first choice centre-backs, a debut for £4.7m new-boy Borja Valero behind a £5m front-line of Luke Moore and Roman Bednar. Dean Keily was given his first competitive appearance of the new season also.
Both the Baggies and Pools were up for the game; both sides had goals ruled out in the first half, and there were numerous goal-mouth scrambles, the deadlock finally broken on 61 minutes by Joel Porter after a rare error by Leon Barnett. It looked like the solitary goal would be enough, but Koren had other ideas and hit a peach of a goal in the dying minutes. Forcing the tie into extra time, the Baggies hit the woodwork three times, once through Moore, and substitutes Beattie and Greening. However the night was the Pools for the taking, and they struck on 102 minutes and again four minutes later through subs Foley and Barker to ensure their progress into the next round.
Points of concern – The Baggies still lack in attack. MacDonald was our liveliest striker following his half-time introduction for Chris Brunt, but 3 games into the new season and none of our strikers have scored. Sloppy defence – Meite improves with each game but makes errors, and there are crucial lapses in concentration across the back that are costing us goals.
Mowbray remains positive – so I also retain the faith. Bring on Bolton.
Lee-Barrett, Sweeney, Nelson, Collins, Humphreys, Jones, McCunnie, Liddle, Monkhouse (Robson 57), Brown (Foley 85), Porter (Barker 85).
Subs Not Used: Budtz, Power, Mackay, Rowell.
West Brom (4-4-2)
Kiely, Hoefkens, Barnett, Meite, Cech, Koren (Pele 94), Greening, Borja Valero, Brunt (MacDonald 46), Bednar (Beattie 64), Moore.
Subs Not Used: Dorrans, Carson, Slusarski, Martis.
M Hayward (West Yorkshire)