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Valerien Ismael praises players’ professionalism as West Brom beat Bristol City

West Bromwich Albion v Birmingham City – Sky Bet Championship – Hawthorns
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

West Brom head coach Valerien Ismael admitted it was challenging coping with four delays in their comfortable 3-0 win over Bristol City at The Hawthorns.

Jordan Hugill, Kyle Bartley and Karlan Grant punished woeful defending but delays – two for medical emergencies after a fan from each team was carried away in unrelated incidents and two for injuries to players on the pitch – cast a cloud over proceedings and caused a delay of around 25 minutes.

Ismael said both supporters were OK while City defender Nathan Baker was concussed and also had to receive oxygen. Hugill was able to carry on after colliding with a post.

“I have been told the two supporters and the Bristol City player are well so that’s the important thing,” Ismael said.

“From my side we send our best wishes from the staff and the club to everyone concerned.

“It was difficult because before we came out of the changing room the adrenalin is running high and I was the same with my last speech to the players.

“So we raise the intensity high, then we had to wait 15 minutes and the intensity goes down.

“But we tried straight away to keep the intensity and at half-time we found a great reaction to a strange situation.”

Ismael praised his players’ professionalism and believes they dominated the game but was less satisfied with their finishing after dominating.

He added: “It was a strange situation with all the delays but we stayed focused on the game and did what we had to do.

“It was a great game and we played some great stuff but we had 23 shots and nine on target so we need to make sure we score more.”

Kick-off was delayed for 15 minutes after a West Brom supporter in the Halford Lane Stand was carried from the crowd on a stretcher.

The fan was conscious and able to put his thumb up before being assessed.

West Brom took a seventh-minute lead with a superb one-touch move.

Matt Phillips played the ball inside wing-back Jay Dasilva and Darnell Furlong crossed for Hugill to tap home.

West Brom deservedly doubled their lead when Furlong hurled in another long throw-in and captain Bartley glanced into the far corner.

At half-time there was another delay to allow the emergency services to treat a Bristol City fan, who was given oxygen as he was taken away in a wheelchair.

It was 3-0 in the 52nd minute after more poor City defending.

A hopeless back pass from substitute Danny Simpson just into his own half after a Bristol corner left Grant the chance to run on and slot past Dan Bentley.

A third defeat on the bounce made it a miserable return to West Brom for manager and former Albion assistant boss Nigel Pearson just 24 hours after the departure of coach Paul Simpson.

Pearson refused to use the delays as an excuse.

“The delays had nothing to do with it,” he said. “People’s health is a lot more important than starting a football match.

“Whether it’s 10 or 15 minutes is irrelevant – it didn’t stop them (West Brom) from starting quickly. We knew what to expect but we didn’t deal with it – that’s the biggest disappointment.

“The goals we conceded in the first half we were too soft and too passive and we didn’t sort our feet out. It was a really bad day for us.

“Our defending collectively wasn’t good enough. Having said that it would be ungenerous of me not to compliment West Brom on how they played with intensity and they have a really good squad of players.”

Regarding Baker, Pearson added: “Nathan was in A&E the last I heard on oxygen. Hopefully he’s stable now. It was a loss for us because he’s a very valuable player.”

Refusing to confirm the exit of assistant head coach Keith Downing, who was absent from the dugout, he said of Simpson’s departure: “It was his decision to settle with the club.”