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Pre-season: Barnet 0 West Brom 3 - Report

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published: | Last Updated:

A second-half brace from Hal Robson-Kanu eased Albion to a comfortable 3-0 victory over National League Barnet in their first public outing of pre-season.

Hal Robson-Kanu (AMA)

After a frustrating first half for the Baggies' big guns, Kyle Edwards broke the deadlock in the 67th minute with a sumptuous curling effort into the far corner.

Seven minutes later Robson-Kanu, one of few senior players left on the pitch by this stage, won and converted a penalty to make it 2-0.

Three minutes later the Wales international rounded off a nice passing move with a cool finish to put the game beyond doubt and complete a three-goal ten-minute blitz.

Although the scoreline was comfortable in the end when both side's youth teams were playing each other, Albion struggled to create chances of note in the first half when their top stars were on - not that there were many senior players in action.

Darren Moore took 22 players to The Hive, but only seven who travelled played first-team football for the Baggies last season and the head coach called upon two experienced free agents to help make up the numbers.

There was a return of a familiar face in the backline, where Great Escape hero Kieran Richardson, 33, lined up alongside former Coventry defender Martin Cranie, 31, who was last on Huddersfield's books.

Both have been training with Albion in recent weeks to keep their fitness up in an effort to win a move elsewhere, and the Baggies are not considering signing either. But even so, Richardson completed 45 minutes and Cranie completed 55.

There were extenuating circumstances behind Albion's threadbare squad. None of the players who missed the Portugal training camp were picked for the game because they were behind on their fitness work.

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That meant there was no chance for those Albion fans who had travelled to see new signing Sam Johnstone, and there was no Oliver Burke, Jake Livermore, James McClean, Craig Dawson or James Morrison.

Sam Field missed the game with a calf strain, Nacer Chadli is still at the World Cup, Ahmed Hegazi is on holiday, and Allan Nyom and Kieran Gibbs were also absent.

But it was still startling to see so few recognised senior professionals in action in the team's first public showing of the summer (they completed a behind-closed-doors friendly with Cheltenham in the week).

And it was equally startling to see the big guns who had travelled struggle to create chances against National League opposition.

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Not much happened in a dull first half-hour. Jonathan Leko was Albion's brightest spark but lacked end product and it was Cranie who had the best chance for the Baggies when Matt Phillips's free-kick bounced all the way through to him at the back post. However, he miscued his effort and it was cleared by Craig Robson.

If it had been a trial for Cranie, Albion would probably be looking elsewhere anyway, because the centre-back struggled to deal with Barnet's pace and conceded a few early free-kicks.

Barnet's Shaq Coulthirst, a former Tottenham academy product, got in behind him too easily towards the end of the first half and cracked the post with an effort that woke the crowd from their slumber.

A minute later, however, Coulthirst blatantly pulled down Cranie at an Albion corner, but nothing was given. The crowd jokingly called for VAR - their minds perhaps already on the big game in Russia looming later that day.

After the break, and a multitude of changes for both teams that pitted the two club's academy sides against each other, it was Edwards who looked lively for Albion, and he finally forced the Barnet keeper into a save five minutes after half-time.

And in the 67th minute, the 20-year-old who spent last season on loan at League Two Exeter City, broke the deadlock with a quality goal.

Cutting in off the left hand side he curled a beautiful effort into the far corner from 20 yards out that proved too strong for Barnet's trialist keeper.

In the 74th minute, Hal Robson-Kanu won and converted a confident penalty after being upended in the box and then three minutes later he rounded the game off with his second.

One of the few senior professionals on the pitch, it was a case of man against boys, although Albion's youngsters deserve credit for zipping the ball around smartly to set up his chances.

That will no doubt encourage Moore, who is hoping to promote a few of his best young guns to the first team next season, but it's hard to ignore the need for signings.

Albion have lost five senior professionals so far this summer, and signed just one replacement so far.

Those behind the scenes are confident the necessary work will be done in the transfer market, but there's no escaping that there is still plenty to do.

Teams

Albion (4-4-2): Palmer (House 60), Wilson (Ferguson 60), Fitzwater (Jameson 60), Cranie (O'Shea 55), Richardson (Melbourne 45), Phillips (Edwards 45), Brunt (c) (Harper 45), Barry (Bradley 45), Leko (Tulloch 60), Rodriguez (Clayton-Phillips 60), Rondon (Robson-Kanu 45).

Barnet: Cousins, Alexander, Johnson, Reynolds, Robson, Sweeney, Kyei, Boucaud, Sparkes, J Taylor, Coulthirst.

Subs: Fonguck, Trialist One, Adams, Barham, Payne, Pascal, Mason-Clark, Tutonda, Syla, Shomotun, Sule, Mars, Trialist GK.

Goals

67' Barnet 0-1 WBA - Kyle Edwards

74' Barnet 0-2 WBA - Hal Robson-Kanu (p)

77' Barnet 0-3 WBA - Hal Robson-Kanu

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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