Albion’s men’s under-21s were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Everton on Sunday in Premier League 2.
The Toffees secured all three points thanks to Stanley Mills’ second-half goal, as Albion slipped to a disappointing defeat at Southport FC.
Everton had the first two openings of the match through Thomas Cannon, who caused Albion problems throughout with his willingness to run in behind and shoot on sight.
Cannon’s first chance came after five minutes when he fired a low strike across goal from the edge of the box, but his effort was easily saved by James Beadle, and the Irish striker was denied again four minutes later when he fired straight at Beadle from a tight angle.
Cam Peupion then created Albion’s first opening after 14 minutes when he broke forward and fed a pass into the feet of Evan Ferguson, but his shot from 18 yards took a big deflection and Everton goalkeeper Zan-Luk Leban scrambled to his left to tip the effort wide.
Peupion was at the heart of things again six minutes later when a jinking run earned him space inside the penalty area, but a last-ditch lunge from Everton captain, Kyle John took all the sting out of the Australian’s shot and it looped into Leban’s arms.
Albion were on top by this point and ended the first half well, and so nearly went into the break with the lead when Ed Turns threw himself at Samy Chouchane’s pinpoint corner in the 40th minute.
The centre-back managed to get good connection on the set-piece, but could only direct his header straight at Leban from six yards - before Antef Tsoungui fired the rebound high and wide.
Half-time came at the wrong time for Albion, as Everton regrouped at the break and reappeared for the second half looking more confident.
Cannon continued to lead from the front and caused early problems again with a shot from 18 yards that curled just wide, before he grabbed an assist for Stanley Mills with an accurate cut-back.
Mills had enough space and time inside the box to take a touch and a fire a low effort into the bottom right-hand corner on the hour mark, and he nearly had a second ten minutes later only for a last-ditch challenge from Turns to deny him.
The hosts were the better team in the second half and Cannon remained a threat, striking a first-time shot wide from the edge of the box in the 75th minute and then heading Isaac Price’s perfect cross wide from seven yards.
Jack Hinshelwood and Peupion came closest to salvaging something for Albion late on, but after both drove into the box and reached the byline in the last five minutes, they could only watch on as their low crosses flew across the face of goal and evaded their onrushing teammates.
Albion failed to muster another chance of note in the final stages as Everton held on for victory.
Albion: Beadle, Offiah, Tsoungui, Turns, Ifill (Baker-Boaitey 70), Chouchane (Barrington 63), Hinshelwood, Spong, Furlong, Peupion, Ferguson.
Subs not used: Cahill, Packham, Everitt.