Evan Ferguson scored his eighth goal of the season but Albion’s under-23s lost 3-1 to Manchester City in their final Premier League 2 tussle of 2021.
The 17-year-old, who was on the bench for the first team against Wolves on Wednesday, gave Albion a lifeline when he scored from close range in the 58th minute and make it 2-1 at the City Academy.
But City soon restored their two-goal lead through the impressive Cole Palmer and although Albion competed well throughout, the home side carried the greater attacking threat and deserved to win.
Albion were looking to build on an impressive win against Liverpool last time out and they nearly took a sixth-minute lead.
Sam Packham picked out Ferguson with a tempting cross from the left and the striker’s powerful header forced keeper Cieran Slicker into a flying save. The danger wasn’t over as James Furlong attempted to scramble the loose ball over the line but City eventually cleared.
For 20 minutes Albion looked the better team but they then conceded twice in eight minutes.
They gave the ball away on the right just outside the box and Cole Palmer found Bobb whose sideways pass provided Wilson-Esbrand with a tap-in.
It was 2-0 in the 28th minute when Bobb latched onto a through ball and deftly lifted it over goalkeeper Fynn Talley.
Furlong had to go off for treatment when a whack on his nose drew blood and the defender was booked shortly afterwards, as Albion reached the break with a lot to do.
Talley made a strong save at his near post to deny Palmer eight minutes into the second half as City looked for a third but instead Albion pulled one back in the 56th minute.
Furlong was the creator with a low ball across the face of the six-yard box after Albion attacked down the left and Ferguson got in front of his marker to slide the ball home from close range.
City restored their two-goal cushion on the hour. Talley had just parried Palmer’s powerful shot when Palmer tried his luck from outside the box again and this time his left-footer flew into the bottom corner for 3-1.
Ferguson was inches away from scoring again but a defender got a decisive touch to clear before he could turn in Cam Peupion’s cross as Albion looked for another response, but the hosts saw out the closing minutes comfortably enough.
Albion are back in action on 10 January when they entertain Arsenal at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
Albion: Talley, Packham. Furlong, Offiah, Turns, Spong, Peupion, Leonard, Tolaj (Wilson 75), Moran (Hinchy 69( Ferguson.
Subs: Bull, Miller, Ella.