Premier League Baggies edge friendly encounterTown: Mark Halstead, Cameron Gayle, Mickey Demetriou, James Wesolowski, Mark Ellis, Nathaniel-Knight Percival, Craig Curran, Liam Lawrence, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Scott Vernon, Ashley Vincent
Subs: James Caton, Callum Burton, James Collins, Ryan Woods, Andy Robinson, Akwasi Asante, Jordan Clarke, Connor Goldson, Dom Smith, Ben Burton, Jermaine Grandison
WBA: Boaz Myhill, Sebastien Pocognoli, Jonas Olsson, Claudio Yacob, Victor Anichebe, Saido Berahino, Liam O’Neil, Youssouf Mulumbu, Craig Dawson, Stephane Sessegnon, Kemar Roofe
Subs: Luke Daniels, Chris Baird, Craig Gardner, George Thorne, Graham Dorrans, Wes Atkinson, Donervorn Daniels, Bradley Garmston, Adil Nabi, Mani O’Sullivan
Referee: Chris Sargeson
Assistants: Steve Rushton & Rob Merchant
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
West Bromwich Albion inflicted a first defeat on Micky Mellon in tonight’s home friendly. All the goals were scored in the first half with Scott Vernon’s effort sandwiched in between strikes from Victor Anichebe and Youssouf Mulumbu. It was a very useful run-out for Shrewsbury and gave Mellon the chance to give the bulk of his squad some game time.
It took a really smart save from Town keeper Mark Halstead to keep out Kemar Roofe’s 30 yard blockbuster that looked headed for the top corner of the goal. But the Shrews stopper flew full length to push the third minute effort over the top and the corner was wasted.
Bang on 12 minutes, the visitors took the lead through Anichebe. Stephane Sessegnon worked the oracle down the right hand side, looked up and picked out the former Everton man who had time and space to pick his spot with a cool finish high beyond a hapless Halstead. The Premier League side had enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the early moments of the game, with Town unable to get any kind of fluency into their play such was the quality of the opposition.
But for a smashing block from James Wesolowski, Sessegnon might have doubled the Baggies lead on 26 minutes. The summer signing from Oldham timed his tackle to perfection just as the ex-Sunderland man was about to pull the trigger and looking odds-on to score. Mellon knew the kind of assignment facing his new charges this evening but they had barely had a sniff until the half hour mark with Albion a permanent threat.
But suddenly Ashley Vincent found some room down the left and delivered early for Vernon to open his account in Blue & Amber colours. It was a tidy finish from Vernon but his task was made all that easier with the quality of ball in from the left winger. Vernon swept home at the front post beyond Boaz Myhill and Town were back level.
The applause had barely died down before West Brom struck again. Mulumbu received a perfectly weighted pass from Sessignon and had the simplest of tasks to clip the ball past an exposed Halstead from around 10 yards.
Saido Berahino headed over Sebastien Pocognoli’s teasing cross just before half time which ought to have given Alan Irvine’s men a more commanding lead to take down the tunnel.
Half Time: Town 1 WBA 2
Just like the weekend game against Chesterfield, Mellon made several changes with Ryan Woods, Jermaine Grandison, James Collins, Connor Goldson, Akwasi Asante, James Caton and young keeper Callum Burton all introduced at the break.
The floodlights had been switched on - not that you needed them with the number of fluorescent boots on display – but it was still a lovely, tranquil Shropshire evening, and just about the most ideal conditions you could want to stage a football match.
Vincent had Town’s first chance twelve minutes after the restart when Collins played him in, but former Town loanee Luke Daniels covered his angles and Vincent’s effort had no meat behind it in any event.
Jordan Clarke and Andy Robinson were both introduced with half an hour left leaving only Cameron Gayle and Nathaniel Knight Percival from the eleven that started for Salop still out on the field.
Burton made his first save at senior level to keep Berahino out at his near post, and by now, with just 15 minutes left, there was a bit more of an even feel to the contest.
Collins took up a great position to get on the end of Woods’ probing centre, but Albion’s Craig Dawson read the danger brilliantly and got there just ahead of the Irishman to deny Collo a second goal in as many matches since his return to the club.
Town had certainly given a good account of themselves against vastly superior opposition than that provided at the weekend. Chesterfield were last season’s League Two Champions but West Brom were a completely different proposition. A first defeat then for Mellon, but lots to be learned from both encounters with Championship outfit Watford next to visit the Greenhous Meadow on Saturday.
Full Time: Town 1 WBA 2
Attendance: 2,831 (640 from West Brom)