Albion maintained their impressive pre-season form with a deserved 2-1 success over Reading on Saturday.
Goals from Pascal Gross and Solly March put Albion in control in Berkshire and they could have stretched their advantage during a dominant first hour.
Reading got a goal back through Yakou Meite’s penalty but Albion threatened further goals in the closing 20 minutes, by which time they had a completely different XI on the pitch.
Graham Potter only made one change to the side that started last Saturday’s friendly against Estoril with Tariq Lamptey replacing Neal Maupay in the starting XI but ended up giving game time to 22 players.
Albion were soon into their stride and the surprise was it took them 19 minutes to break the deadlock.
Before the opener, Danny Welbeck had intercepted a loose pass and forced Joe Lumley into a fine save, diving to his right. Moises Caicedo’s powerful hit would have tested the Royals keeper too had it not been heavily deflected by Sam Hutchinson and Alexis Mac Allister couldn’t keep his right-foot shot on target after Lamptey picked him out.
But Albion’s pressure was rewarded when Solly March nutmegged a defender and got into the box. His low ball across the face of goal was eventually recycled by Lamptey who dug out a cross from the line which Gross met with a powerful header into the top corner from eight yards.
There was a bit of a lull after that, but Albion were in total command with Rob Sanchez’s activity limited to distributing a couple of clearances upfield. When Reading did briefly threaten Lewis Dunk earned a thunderous ovation from 1100 Albion fans when he stretched out his leg to dispossess Yakou Meite.
Adam Webster and Enock Mwepu came on at the break with Solly March switching to the right wing-back role and Leo Trossard on the opposite side.
And within two minutes of the restart March doubled Albion’s lead. After a patient build-up March took aim from outside the D and arrowed a low left-foot shot into the bottom corner, giving Lumley no chance.
Albion seemed to be cruising but on 58 minutes they gifted Reading a goal when Mac Allister bundled over Meite in the box after Tom Ince had intercepted Sanchez’s poor pass out. Meite made no mistake from the spot, sending Sanchez the wrong way.
Welbeck was denied by a brilliant interception from Holmes before Albion rung the changes on 70 minutes with nine players coming on to add to half-time replacements Adam Webster and Enock Mwepu.
Jason Steele was called into action straight away to push out an effort from Junior Hoilett while Albion had a penalty claim of their own turned down when Kaoru Mitoma appeared to have been fouled in the box.
Albion couldn’t find the third goal they deserved in the closing stages but it was another good work-out with the Premier League opener only 15 days away. Next up is a game against Brentford behind closed doors on Tuesday.
Albion: Sanchez (Steele 70), Veltman (Webster 45), Dunk (Clarke 70), Cucurella (Duffy 70), Lamptey (Mwepu 45), March (Alzate 70), Gross (Lallana 70), Mac Allister (Mitoma 70), Caciedo (Enciso 70), Trossard (Undav 70), Welbeck (Maupay 70).
Subs not used: McGill, Sarmiento, Ferguson, van Hecke.