A youthful West Bromwich Albion side progress to the quarter finals of the Birmingham Senior Cup despite a late Hednesford Town comeback.
While Hednesford find themselves languishing in 21st in the league, the Pitching In Southern Central side started brightly with the first chance of the game falling to the hosts.
A great ball by skipper Lewis Ludford-Ison found former West Brom man Stanley Asomugha down the left side before squaring the ball back to the awaiting Riley O’Sullivan. A great chance for the Pitmen, Albion keeper Brad Foster was equal to it to deny the Hednesford no.9 from close range.
Hednesford would immediately rue the missed opportunity, a bright counter from the visitors led by Akeel Higgins, his bursting run complimented by a pinpoint through ball to Fenton Heard who calmly rolled the ball into the bottom-left corner to give the Baggies the lead inside five minutes.
The Albion front three continued to cause issues on the counter, Kevin Mfuamba winning the ball on halfway with intricate play by Ramelo Mitchell and Higgins winning the visitors a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the Hednesford box. Mfuamba took the low road from 18 yards out but keeper Rhy Williams was alert to the danger and gathered with ease to deny West Brom a valuable second as we approached the half-hour mark.
Hednesford looked most threatening down the left-hand side, a great ball by Stefan Morley to the back post found Tom Thorley in a yard of space but his header was well wide of the mark. O’Sullivan again was presented with an opportunity to draw the hosts level with a great ball over the top by Kemy Agustien but the Town no.9 rushed the chance and blazed over from 20 yards out.
West Brom, meanwhile, looked to end the half strongly with Heard going close once again with his effort from 12-yards cut out brilliantly by a white shirt to deny an almost-certain goal.
The Pitmen started the second 45 minutes in the same way they started the first - Morley going close from a free-kick from close range with his effort clipped off the top of the wall for a corner. The subsequent set-piece fell at the feet of Morley again, the defender in acres of space at the back post but slices at the shot and clips the top of the crossbar and out of play.
Déjà vu for the hosts, Albion would go up the other end minutes later and double their lead via Fenton Heard. The Town keeper was caught in no man’s land when Ethan Ingram dispossessed Williams on the far side before laying it off to Heard on the edge of the box. The Albion no.7 calmly picked his spot as he smashed the ball into the bottom-right corner with a Hednesford man’s last-ditch block on the line unable to keep it from going in the back of the net.
Hednesford looked eager to assert themselves in the final 30 minutes with O’Sullivan at the centre of most Town attacks. The no.9’s best chance came from a smart run to the back post but ultimately rushed the shot with his effort off target.
The 21-year-old was at the forefront of the action once again, a great forward run in behind saw the forward beat his man with Albion defender Aaron Harper-Bailey bringing him down inside the area with the referee wasting little time to point to the spot. O’Sullivan stepped up to the plate but his low-effort was easily gathered by Foster down to his left.
With both Ludford-Ison and Morley going close with testing readers from close range, Hednesford were given a lifeline in the 90th minute with a poor back pass by Harper-Bailey pounced on by O’Sullivan just outside the area who calmly tucked the ball past the Albion keeper the half the deficit with six additional minutes to be played.
Morley’s long range effort in the dying seconds was the best opportunity Hednesford could conjure up, the ball narrowly fizzing over the ball before the referee blew the final whistle.
West Bromwich Albion will now take on Redditch United in the quarter finals of the Birmingham FA Senior Cup.
Hednesford: Williams, Broome, Morley, Agustien, Luford-Ison ©, Kaninda, Bennett, Thorley, O’Sullivan, Parker, Asomugha. (Subs: Glover, McQuilkin, Hartley, Dodsley)
WBA: Foster, Hall, Humphries, Ingram, Nguepissi, Harper-Bailey, Heard, Richards ©, Mitchell, Mfuamba, Higgins. (Subs: Whitwell, Walker, Love, Williams, Hudd)