Conor Townsend performance analysed in West Brom loss v Stoke City
Ever the reliable performer, Conor Townsend let his usual high standards slip on Friday as West Brom suffered their first Championship defeat of the season against Stoke City.
The 27-year-old left-back has been a mainstay of this new-look Valerian Ismael side, starting all 11 league games under the Frenchman.
After beginning the season as a rampaging left wing-back, Townsend has been forced to deputise in central defence, owing to injuries to Matt Clarke and Dara O’Shea.
But his levels dropped somewhat in Friday’s 1-0 loss, in line with most of his teammates.
No player really impressed against the Potters, and it is testament to Townsend’s consistency that he has been highlighted after this game for a below-par performance.
Nick Powell caused him and the rest of the defence all sorts of trouble with his movement at the Bet365 Stadium.
The first example, pictured below, shows Townsend preparing to run back to his own goal in order to track Powell’s run.
However, a quick turn of the shoulder from Powell sees Townsend panic, and in his rush to get closer to the ex-Manchester United man, he slips, giving Powell space to thread a ball in behind the Albion defence for Jacob Brown, who should have scored when one-on-one with Sam Johnstone.
The next example probably shows his lack of experience in the centre-back role.
Townsend has stepped well out of position and he leaves his defensive partners, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi, having to mark a man each as Stoke play it wide, preparing to cross into the oceans of space left in the penalty area.
Albion get away with it, but the danger is obvious.
The final example is the goal that condemned Albion to their first Championship defeat under Ismael.
There appears to be no danger as Townsend and Adam Reach prepare to collect the ball in space.
However, there was surely a lack of communication between the pair as Townsend bizarrely falls to ground and attempts to clear the ball, rather than build from the back.
He cedes possession to the Stoke midfield, and the ball is subsequently played over his head, in the space he has vacated, for Powell to lift the ball over Johnstone and ultimately win Stoke the game.
It was a poor night’s work for Townsend, but we’re backing him to get back to his usual levels after the international break.
Rest will surely do him, and the rest of the squad, some good.
In other West Brom news, this Albion player has reacted to transfer speculation on Instagram.