Regis Shield: West Brom 5 Coventry 2 - Report and pictures
Albion signed off pre-season in style as they thrashed Coventry City to win the inaugural Regis Shield.
New boy Harvey Barnes and Hal Robson-Kanu both scored twice in the opening 39 minutes at The Hawthorns.
Reice Allassani pulled one back for the Sky Blues just before the break but Jake Livermore then netted the Baggies fifth early in the second half.
Jordon Thompson would at least ensure Coventry had the final say when he headed a late consolation.
Victory saw Albion lift the Regis Shield on a day of celebration for legendary striker Cyrille, who played for both clubs.
It would be fair to assume the great man would have approved of the attacking quality on show from the Baggies, particularly during a first-half when they threatened to run up a cricket score.
Leicester loanee Barnes, who scored twice in the opening eight minutes, was particularly impressive on his Hawthorns debut, while Robson-Kanu also shone after being preferred to both Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon in attack.
Albion’s team was also notable for the inclusion of Sam Johnstone for the first time in pre-season, the goalkeeper having shaken off a groin problem.
But there was no Craig Dawson in the matchday squad, with the defender missing out due to a thigh strain.
The pre-match build-up contained several nods to Regis, with the PA playlist consisting of several of the legendary striker’s favourite songs.
When the teams emerged prior to kick-off, they did so behind two flags, one coloured blue and white the other green and yellow, both emblazoned with the message: “Legend, The Man, Hero, Icon, Trailblazer.”
Within 60 seconds of the first whistle, meanwhile, both sets of fans were on their feet to the chant of “Stand up if you love Regis”.
A few minutes later, it was the Albion fans alone who stood and applauded when Barnes powered them ahead.
The club’s two longest-serving players, Chris Brunt and James Morrison were the architects of the move, the former playing a neat disguised pass which the latter laid off for Barnes to fire into the bottom corner of the visiting goal from 20 yards out.
Barnes’s second, two minutes later, was an equally impressive team move, this time finding Robson-Kanu before racing on to the return pass and lifting the ball over Coventry goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.
Albion were utterly dominant and it required a sharp save from O’Brien to prevent Brunt making it three from a free-kick.
But the keeper would be beaten again just past the half-hour mark. Brunt lifted the ball forward from deep in his own half and Robson-Kanu outsprinted the sluggish visiting defence before rounding O’Brien and slotting home.
Coventry had barely mounted an attack by that point but should have pulled a goal back when Jonson Clarke-Harris latched on to Jordon Ponticelli’s through ball. But with just Johnstone to beat, he stabbed the ball horribly wide.
The chance prompted visiting supporters to sarcastically chant “we’ve had a shot”. Six minutes before the break, they saw their team fall further behind, as Barnes returned the favour to Robson-Kanu with a pinpoint cross which the Wales international powered home.
Coventry would at least end the half on a high note when Allassani pulled a goal back. He escaped the clutches of Martin Cranie on the left before curling a superb right-footed shot past Johnstone and inside the far post.
The visitors made six changes at the break, with Lee Burge replacing O’Brien in goal.
Albion took just six minutes to score again, this time Livermore getting on the scoresheet when he drove home from ten yards out, after meeting Kieran Gibbs’s pull-back.
Johnstone made his first save of the game, diving to his right to keep out a long-range effort from substitute Tony Andreu.
The same player would call Johnstone into action shortly afterward, this time with a free-kick which was pushed round the post.
Johnstone would be beaten again 12 minutes from time when Thompson stole in front of his marker to head home Tom Davies’s cross.
Albion (4-4-1-1): Johnstone, Cranie (Wilson 79), Bartley, Hegazi (Fitzwater 76), Gibbs (Rodriguez 69), Phillips (Burke 79), Livermore (Harper 79), Brunt, Barnes (Leko 76), Morrison (Edwards 79), Robson-Kanu (Barry 69) Subs not used: Rondon, Bond (gk).
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