West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Southampton: Alex McCarthy makes two crucial saves for Saints as play-off semi-final first leg ends goalless

by 24britishtvMay 12, 2024, 8 p.m. 21
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The Championship play-off semi-final between West Brom and Southampton will be decided in the second leg after the teams played out a 0-0 first-leg draw at The Hawthorns on Sunday.

In what was an open encounter on a scorching day in the Midlands, just five of the 26 shots the teams generated between them hit the target.
• How the teams lined up | Match stats

Grady Diangana had a big chance to put the Baggies in front in each half, though Ross Stewart came the closest with just over 10 minutes to play, forcing a superb improvised save from goalkeeper Alex Palmer.

West Brom and Southampton will face off against at St Mary's on Friday night - live on Sky Sports Football - for a place in the play-off final on Sunday May 26.

How another Championship first leg ended goalless

West Brom flew out of the traps at The Hawthorns and controlled the tempo in the first 10 minutes. Southampton did pick themselves up to take charge of the possession, as they so often do, and came close when Flynn Downes exchanged passes with Joe Aribo and drew a smart save from Alex Palmer.

The Baggies matched their opponents when Tom Fellows found Diangana with a cross to the far post, with the DR Congo international forcing McCarthy to save well at his near post.

Just after the hour, they threatened again. Mikey Johnston picked the ball up after his initial delivery was headed clear by Jan Bednarek and delivered to the far post, where Darnell Furlong prodded past the far post.

As the final whistle got closer, the game sparked into life. At one end, McCarthy won the battle between himself and Diangana for a second time - and from the resulting counter, substitute Stewart's shot took a deflection, with Palmer having to quickly adjust his stance to make a brilliant save with his feet.

West Brom were denied a penalty late on when Ryan Fraser appeared to trip Diangana as he entered the box from the right, with replays suggesting referee Josh Smith had made the correct call. And so it finished all square, to increase the expectation on Friday's crucial second leg.

West Brom manager Carlos Corberan told Sky Sports: "It was a very equal, very balanced game. A very tough game for both teams. I think we were better than them in the first 15-20 minutes of the first half; they were controlling us better in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

"In the other parts of the game, it was alternate, with moments where we controlled them and they controlled us. Similar types of chances, similar numbers of set-pieces, too. I think we saw today how equal the game was.

"We need to review, analyse and see how we can play the next game even better.

"We need to go with a strong mentality because we know we are playing away. When you know the reward is to go to Wembley and you know the reward after Wembley is to go to the Premier League, you cannot expect any type of easy situation."

Southampton manager Russell Martin told Sky Sports: "Tough game, tight game. Two good chances for them, two good chances for us. I'm delighted with the clean sheet and I saw a lot of stuff I really liked, but I think we can also do some stuff a lot better, which is really positive for us.

"It was a hot day with a sticky pitch and it was difficult, but the players stayed really brave and really aggressive and defended really well.

"We need to take the positives from this one, learn, improve and, on Friday, deliver on the pitch. The tie is in the same place it was before today and both teams now only have one game to win to get to Wembley and we will approach it in that way."

Sky Sports' Jobi McAnuff: "For the players who played the majority of the minutes today, it's about recovery and trying to get as fresh as you can for that second game.

"There will be a lot of hope for getting some players back and I think we saw that today. I saw Ashley Barnes before the game and he's hopeful of getting back for the second leg and we've spoken about Che Adams. These are people that really do make that difference that the game lacked a little bit.

"You want your big players to step up in those real big games as it's so tense, so tight and sometimes it comes down to once chance, one opportunity."

West Brom and Southampton will face off against one another in the second leg at St Mary's at 8pm on Friday May 17, live on Sky Sports Football.

The winners will advance to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final, which will be played at Wembley on Sunday May 26.

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