West Bromwich Albion’s hopes of automatic promotion will remain in their hands heading into the final game of the season, despite a shock 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town at The John Smith’s Stadium.
Goals from Chris Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe were enough to grab the Terriers three points and guarantee their Championship status despite an equaliser earlier on from Dara O’Shea.
Slaven Bilic made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 to Fulham, which saw Hal Robson-Kanu and Matt Phillips replace Charlie Austin and Kamil Grosicki.
The pressure clearly overwhelmed Albion throughout the game and within four minutes it showed, as they fell behind.
A needless foul from Dara O’Shea allowed Juninho Bacuna to fizz a low delivery into the penalty area, which was poorly saved by Sam Johnstone and quickly snapped up by former Albion loanee Chris Willock.
The Baggies then responded towards the end of the first half in a fortunate manner with Matheus Pereira’s teasing free kick headed home from close range by Dara O’Shea, who appeared to be offside when the ball came into the box.
The pressure then ramped up from the Baggies in the second half with the Huddersfield keeper Lossl keeping out a strong effort from Pereira, who headed the rebound over the bar.
Callum Robinson then spurned the best chance of the evening as his close range effort was easily kept out by Lossl after some nice build up play by Pereira and Krovinovic.
However, in the final five minutes of the game, the hosts snatched a surprise victory after Lewis O’Brien’s bursting run was latched onto by Arsenal loanee Smith-Rowe, who sharply controlled and finished past Johnstone to condemn Albion to their seventh defeat of the season.
Here’s how we rated the WBA players in the 2-1 defeat:
Sam Johnstone - 4
Should have done better for the first goal with a poor save. Let a couple of dangerous crosses fly across goal as he didn’t command his area well enough.
Dara O'Shea - 6
Best of a bad bunch. Gave away a very cheap foul which led to the first Huddersfield goal but responded well by grabbing the equaliser. Did well when shifted to left back when Furlong came on.
Semi Ajayi - 4
Was one of the better players in the backline showing his composure. Was caught out at the end for Huddersfield’s winner though letting Smith-Rowe free when closing down O’Brien.
Ahmed Hegazi - 4
Hegazi struggled to contain the energetic Campbell and Willock which spelled problems for Albion. Looked uncomfortable all game.
Conor Townsend - 4
Townsend really struggled on the left side against Willock, who had a point to prove. Picked up a booking later on.
Jake Livermore - 5
Livermore tried to contain the Terrier’s lively midfield but couldn’t put his stamp on the game. Was taken off at half time.
Romaine Sawyers - 3
Sawyers’s passing was atrocious all game and took a number of risks when playing out from the back where he was caught out.
Matheus Pereira - 5
Lacked the spark that was needed to cut Huddersfield open. Grabbed an assist from a free kick delivery for the goal and saw a powerful effort palmed away by Lossl.
Matt Phillips - 3
Made absolutely no impact at all in the game and got booked for a very late challenge. Was dragged off at half time as a result.
Grady Diangana - 5
Diangana was one of the only threats in the first half and saw a cross missed by Robson-Kanu. Had one dangerous delivery dealt with by Lossl but didn’t get involved much in the second 45 minutes.
Hal Robson-Kanu - 4
Service to the striker was poor and he never imposed his style on the game. Another one to pick up a silly booking.
Filip Krovinovic - 6 (subbed on 45')
Krovinovic was impressive and won many challenges in midfield to try to get Albion going although it wasn’t enough.
Kamil Grosicki - 4 (subbed on 45')
Was brought on at half time to add pace down the left side but he didn’t contribute a lot.
Darnell Furlong - 4 (subbed on 59')
Another that failed to do much in attack. Won a few headers but apart from that, there wasn’t too much to shout about for him.
Charlie Austin - 4 (subbed on 59')
Failed to add any nous up front when it was needed for the final minutes.
Callum Robinson - 4 (subbed on 75')
Missed a crucial chance at 1-1 when through on goal as he failed to get a good connection on his effort. Proved costly as Albion were sucker-punched up the other end.