West Brom player ratings v Bristol City as pair struggle but Maja shows glimpse

West Brom claimed their first clean sheet of the new Championship season at Bristol City on Saturday – but their wait for that first elusive away win since April continues as they played out a goalless draw at Ashton Gate.

In a game of two halves, the Robins were dominant in the first period, but the Baggies wrestled back the momentum in the second and went close through a host of different players, but while Albion haven’t struggled to hit the net this term, that one killer moment eluded them.

The first half made for uncomfortable viewing. As the game settled down in the early stages, the hosts quickly asserted dominance. The wily Nahki Wells caused all sorts of problems for the Albion back-line, namely the returning Semi Ajayi, while Cedric Kipre was busy blocking a low shot of the Bermudan early doors.

Wide-men Sam Bell and Mark Sykes both enjoyed themselves on either flank as Albion continued to live dangerously right through the opening 45, much of it their own doing – there wasn’t one Albion player over the course of that half who didn’t give up possession or make a sloppy pass at some stage.

That includes Alex Palmer, who was otherwise assured but who misjudged a long ball which bounced just in front of his penalty area. Palmer missed his contact with the ball, and that gave Sykes a sniff. The angle was tight, but Sykes squeezed an attempt onto the post, which mercifully rebounded out of the path of Wells.

Albion needed a response in the second half, and that was evident; over the course of the second half Corberan turned to his bench and used up all five of his allocated substitutions over the course of the 45 and they made an impact, but the Baggies – who haven’t had trouble scoring so far this season – just couldn’t force it over the line, whether that was via John Swift, who hit the bar with a header, or Conor Townsend, or Josh Maja.

The latter was expertly sent racing through on goal, minutes after Palmer’s enormous save to deny Harry Cornick being the Robins hero, in the final act of the game by fellow summer signing Jeremy Sarmiento, but he was challenged by Kal Naismith as he went to pull the trigger. The ref waved away any penalty appeals.

An afternoon of ‘what if?’, perhaps, for Albion who started slowly and passed up decent opportunities they’d carved out, but it’s another point and a maiden shut-out. Onto Watford.

Palmer 7

Mopped up between the sticks and made decisions to punch corners, which occurred frequently in the first half, but he left the entire away end with their hearts in their mouths when coming for and missing a long ball from which he escaped punishment. Decent save to deny Sykes’ second half header. Huge save at the death.

Furlong 6

Caught in possession a couple of times in the first half, once early doors when Kipre had to make a big challenge to deny Wells and then when Albion had passed their way out from the back. Furlong fed Wallace in the box as Albion looked to respond. Better in the second half when producing a string of through balls to help create openings.

Ajayi 5

Played one excellent raking pass across the pitch to Phillips over on the far side to speed up Albion’s build up play, but in his own defensive third Ajayi’s performance in the first half was a mixed bag. Troubled by Wells, in particular, and Bell but recovered and kept a calm head to tee up a burst from Wallace.

Kipre 6

Big block to deny Wells when he pulled the trigger inside the box. Found the forward a handful but he made a big tackle on Joe Williams to spark a counter. Couple of lovely balls from the visionary defender but another one or two which didn’t meet their target.

Pieters 6

Albion were countered on when Pieters didn’t make contact with a pass on the edge of the box and Sykes beat Yokuslu in a foot race, but Albion eventually escaped. Pieters was the calming influence Albion needed in the second half when they attacked and denied too many Robins counters.

Phillips 6

An okay showing by Phillips’ standards this season. Had a couple of speculative efforts which didn’t test O’Leary. Booked for a late challenge which deserved the card. Not at his influential best in a half where the whole unit looked off it.

Yokuslu 5

Still waiting for his very best to come, as has been pointed out by Corberan this week. He’s not alone in that, but a prime Yokuslu ticks over Albion beautifully and that was absent in the first half. Still a little erratic and isn’t marshalling the middle of the pitch as dominantly as usual.

Molumby 6

Threw himself into 50-50 after 50-50, trying to drive Albion forwards in what was a disjointed first half showing. One of the few players who didn’t show any signs of lethargy, perhaps benefitting from his run-out for Ireland.

Swift 6

Culpable of giving up possession a couple of times in the first half and wasn’t able to impact the game with the ball, although on another day his corner is flicked home by Thomas-Asante. Began to see more of the ball in the second half, looked more like himself, as Albion as a whole began to warm to the task. Last contribution was to hit the bar.

Wallace 5

The first 15 or 20 minutes summed up Wallace’s season so far – he looked lethargic, devoid of his usual buzz and tempo, and was loose in possession. There was one moment when he collected the ball on the halfway line, beat his man with a turn of pace and created a chance. That was more like the Wallace of last season, but he was otherwise ineffective.

Thomas-Asante 78

Worked hard enough in leading the line but it was tough going in the first half with the momentum very much with the hosts. Spurned the best chance of the entire half when played in by Wallace but continued to ask questions and dragged Albion upfield.


Maja (for Wallace 66) 6

Nice cameo from Albion’s summer signing. The most we’ve seen from him. Linked the play well in the final third and helped to create openings. Promising. Denied at the death.

Townsend (for Phillips 66) 6

Like for like replacement on the left hand side. Sent in an excellent delivery which Furlong couldn’t connect cleanly with. Might’ve squeezed home a winner, but he brought impetus during his run-out.

Mowatt (for Yokuslu 75)

Diangana (for Swift 83)

Sarmiento (for Thomas-Asante 83)

Substitutes not used: Griffiths, Bartley, Pipa, Chalobah

Bristol City (4-3-3): O’Leary; Tanner, Vyner, Naismith, Pring; Matty James, Williams, Knight (Roberts 84); Sykes (Cornick 79), Wells (Yeboah 79), Bell (Dickie 90)

Substitutes not used: Bajic, King, Mehmeti, Knight-Lebel, Nelson

The ref: Anthony Backhouse

Attendance: 21,836 (2,550 away)

Up next: Watford (A) – Wednesday 20 September, 19:45 kick off

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