Kyle Bartley and Sam Johnstone just about summed up their season on Sunday night when a miscommunication between the West Brom duo allowed Aston Villa’s Keinan Davis to score.
Though Dean Smith’s side had dominated the game at Villa Park, with the home side having the lion’s share of the possession, Albion had done so well to hold them off for so long.
Having taken advantage of Ezri Konsa’s unfortunate slip early into the second half, the Baggies just needed to hold on a little longer, but poor communication ultimately cost them three points.
Speaking after the game, Darnell Furlong told West Brom’s official website that Sam Allardyce’s side hope to build on their performance against the Villans, in spite of the “heartbreaking” moment that cost them the victory.
Albion are nine points from safety in the Premier League table with just five games remaining, leaving the club with a very small window of opportunity to avoid relegation, and Furlong believes that there is “still a chance”.
However their performance against Aston Villa was ultimately emblematic of exactly why West Brom find themselves so close to sealing their return to the Championship.
Albion fought hard against Aston Villa on Sunday, that much is clear, with Allardyce setting his side up to soak up pressure and defend resiliently against a confident Villa attacking unit.
Though the Villans were without star man Jack Grealish they were far from toothless, and West Brom were forced to dig in at times to repel the speed and pressing of the Aston Villa forwards.
However in doing so the Baggies were never able to provide a legitimate threat to Aston Villa through exciting forward play, scoring their two goals from the penalty spot and due to an own goal after a clear opportunity was somehow struck off target.
Additionally the defensive breakdown in communication between Bartley and Johnstone was wholly unavoidable, with Davis having no right to steal the ball from between the two Albion players and knock it over the line.
West Brom weren’t set up to beat Aston Villa, they were set up to contain a severely weakened Villa side when three points would have proven more valuable than one.
Despite even that though, the club threw two points away due to nothing more than their own defensive failings. Albion’s performance, while full of effort, did nothing to suggest that the club shouldn’t be in the bottom three.
In other West Brom news, John Percy has shared a big update on the potential Albion takeover.