We’re back on track: Valerien Ismael happy to see West Brom end winless run

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

Valerien Ismael believes his West Brom side are “back on track” after ending their four-match winless run with a 2-1 success over Coventry at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Kyle McFadzean’s controversial own goal shortly before the interval proved decisive after Karlan Grant had put the Baggies ahead in the 20th minute.

McFadzean then scored again at the right end this time with a header from Todd Kane’s corner, but it came too late to rescue Coventry.

“I think it was really important after the two draws against Blackpool and Nottingham Forest that we keep the momentum going with the performance and to add the last step with the win. We’re back on track,” said Ismael.

“Credit to Coventry, it’s not an easy place to get the points. They’ve played very well this season so far and Fulham lost 4-1 here, and when you see the second half you understand why.”

The Frenchman was full of praise for 19-year-old Taylor Gardner-Hickman, who was brought into the midfield alongside Alex Mowatt despite being a wing-back by trade and only previously starting two league games.

Ismael said: “It’s all about our principles and what we need in that position.

“The profile for the ‘six’ position is that you need to have brains, intensity, to make a lot of distance and to make sure you have a quality ball in the transitions.

“Taylor gave us the confidence he could play that position and I think it was a massive difference to have a week to prepare for this game, to train 11 v 11 throughout the week, and this is why he made a great performance.”

On the controversial incident that saw McFadzean turn through his own net following what appeared to be an obvious handball by Cedric Kipre, the West Brom boss said: “I didn’t see the handball but throughout the season there will be a balance.

“On the one side you will have a lot of decisions against you and on the other side sometimes for you, at the end there will be a good balance.”

Mark Robins, meanwhile, bemoaned a tired Coventry side that lacked quality and found themselves 2-0 down for the second match running.

“The story of it was they had a bit more quality and took their chances and we didn’t take the chances that were either given or created ourselves,” said Robins.

“They were better than us in the first half and we looked tired and not switched on, which is the first time other than Luton.

“Quality was missing and we didn’t have any structure to the team. Tactically it was wrong and when you give players with pace and quality that time and space, they’re going to punish you.

“They were out of sight, they had more opportunities to take chances and didn’t do it.”

On the handball that ultimately condemned the Sky Blues to their second home defeat of the season, Robins said: “It was a poor one to concede. We know they can play it short, they’ve got in behind us and the lad has punched it in.

“The referee’s got no chance of seeing it but nobody appeals, so that was disappointing because you’re two down.

“This week we just didn’t have that last little bit of finesse to try and get what would have been an unwarranted draw at the end of it, because really we got everything we deserved today.”

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