Kenneth Zohore finished the evening with a brace as West Bromwich Albion eased to a 2-0 win over Swansea City at The Hawthorns.
Ahmed Hegazi and Chris Brunt also featured for the U23s as The Baggies produced a spectacular display of attacking football.
Chris Willock, Rayhaan Tulloch and Kyle Edwards forged an unplayable combination in the final third to terrorise the Swansea City defence.
The visitors initially kept them at bay with centre-backs Cam Evans and Jake Thomas proving impenetrable during the first half.
Swansea goalkeeper Josh Gould was forced into action on a handful of occasions in the first half.
But an injury to Thomas destroyed their defensive composition and the experience of Zohore proved decisive.
Dara O’Shea ventured from his defensive position to float a breath-taking diagonal ball to the back post. Zohore escaped the clutches of his marker to cushion his header past Gould at his near post and give the hosts the lead on 65 minutes.
Edwards continued to dazzle under the lights with a mesmerising solo run down the left. He pulled a low cross to the near post but Scott Butler reacted majestically to divert Zohore’s close range volley behind.
Brunt also nearly marked his return from injury with a sensational long-range volley but Gould sprawled low to his right to tip the ball around the post. West Brom had fired numerous warning signs but Swansea simply couldn’t deal with the velocity of their counter-attacking football.
With 14 minutes left on the clock, Zohore completed his brace and condemned the Welsh side to a second successive defeat. Swansea were torn wide open at the back and Harper launched a phenomenal long ball to find the former Cardiff City striker unmarked.
He simply peeled away from his marker and applied a composed finish to caress his volley into the far bottom corner. Swansea left very little to be desired from an attacking perspective and West Brom thoroughly deserved the victory.
The Baggies remain fifth in the Premier League 2 Division 2 table despite recording a third consecutive league win. They reduced the gap to one point behind their next opponents Stoke City and could move into third place with a game in hand on every club but Aston Villa.
Swansea, on the other hand, dropped as low as ninth place due to results conspiring against them elsewhere. Things could quite easily get worse for them when they host league leaders West Ham United on Sunday.
Man of the Match: Kenneth ZohoreThe Man of the Match award could’ve quite easily gone to several of the West Bromwich Albion players. Kyle Edwards was one of the stand-out performers for the hosts yesterday and terrorised Ryan Bevan down the left channel and Chris Willock was equally as menacing at times, especially in the first half.
A mention must also go out to Rekeem Harper, who caused mayhem in the Swansea midfield with his piercing runs from deep. Chris Brunt acted as a composed and calm head in the centre of the park and his experience clearly had a positive impact on the younger players.
But it would be cruel not to give Man of the Match to the match winner. Zohore was relatively passive during the first half and struggled to impact the game. However, he delivered in the decisive moments during the second half, and without his quality and composure in front of goal I dare say that Swansea could’ve walked away with an undeserved point.
Post-Match Interview: Jack Fitzwater – West Brom U23 Captain
When asked about the performance, Fitzwater responded:
“We started really well, applied ourselves quite well and thoroughly deserved the three points.”
“I think they (Swansea) got into our final third three or four times but they didn’t really threaten us. We knew that if we kept breaking them down then they would get tired. We just had to keep moving the ball, don’t make any mistakes and the goals would come if we just keep moving it quickly.”
Speaking about their upcoming match against Stoke on Friday, he said:
“We’re going to go into win the game. I think that’s six wins out of six in all competitions, so we’re going into the match full of confidence. I think there’ll be a few changes on Friday night but we’re definitely going to go there with a mind-set to win the game.”