Conor Townsend must revert to left wing-back role as Valerien Ismael's West Brom experiment fails
Conor Townsend has been a consistent performer for West Brom at left wing-back this season, but his efforts have suffered somewhat at centre-back.
Generally, the 28-year-old has been allowed to prosper in a position that has seen him surge forwards to join the attack and contribute a couple of assists.
However, Townsend has also been required to drop back and fulfill the role of a centre-back on the left of a back three.
His influence diminishes there, though, and he has made uncharacteristic errors there, as also seen in the 1-0 defeat at Stoke City on October 1.
Valerien Ismael opted to play him there again on Saturday as West Brom drew 1-1 with Middlesbrough at The Hawthorns, with Adam Reach utilised at left wing-back.
It was Josh Coburn that opened the scoring for the visitors in the West Midlands, though, and Townsend was to blame.
Duncan Watmore’s touch was heavy and the ball fell to Townsend on the edge of the 18-yard box.
While the ball came at a fairly fast rate, Townsend would have been expected to react and clear the ball from danger.
Indeed, as seen below, he could even have played a pass to Reach or Grady Diangana who were positioned on either side of him.
But his touch was wayward and the ball fell back to Watmore who proceeded to drive at the Albion defender.
Townsend had a decision to make – approach Watmore or drop back to mark Isaiah Jones, who was about to be free in the box.
Townsend tried to stop Watmore, but the 27-year-old ‘Boro forward knocked the ball past him and steamrolled into the Albion penalty area.
The ball then fell perfectly for Coburn to smash past Sam Johnstone and open the scoring.
Grady Diangana eventually scored the equaliser in the 65th-minute, but a point was a disappointing result for Albion against a side who had lost their last two games.
It further dented their chances of automatic promotion as Fulham and Bournemouth both won on the same day. The Cottagers are now six points ahead of third-placed Albion, with the Cherries two points better off at the top.
A long-term injury to Kean Bryan might see Ismael continue to select Townsend at centre-back, but he should give it deep consideration after his latest error.
In other West Brom news, this Albion ace suffered a major injury blow against Middlesbrough.