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Pre-season: Oxford United 0-3 West Brom - Report

Albion continued their preparations for the new season by securing a 3-0 win at Oxford.

Karlan Grant of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 with Jed Wallace of West Bromwich Albion and John Swift of West Bromwich Albion at Kassam Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Karlan Grant of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 with Jed Wallace of West Bromwich Albion and John Swift of West Bromwich Albion at Kassam Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Two goals from Karlan Grant and an own-goal from Yoav Sade saw the Baggies run out comfortable winners at the Kassam Stadium.

But while Steve Bruce's side deserved their victory, the scoreline didn't quite tell the true story of the game following what proved to be an incredibly uneventful friendly.

Whether it was the heat that led to record breaking temperatures across the UK, or whether it was the fact this was Albion's fifth game in 15 days, this encounter was remarkably flat for 70 minutes.

Both teams struggled to create chances throughout with the first-half passing without a single shot on target.

Kyle Bartley of West Bromwich Albion at Kassam Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

But in the closing stages, the Baggies finally found a cutting edge with Grant netting twice and Sade scoring an own goal on target in what was Albion's penultimate friendly before the competative action gets underway.

REPORT

Bruce has tended to shift between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout pre-season.

And he opted for a 4-2-3-1 system at the Kassam Stadium.

It saw Kyle Bartley make his first start of pre-season at centre-back with the defender coming in for Dara O'Shea who wasn't in the squad after welcoming the arrival of a baby boy.

In attack, Jed Wallace started on the right wing with Karlan Grant on the left and Daryl Dike the lone striker.

Jake Livermore and Jayson Molumby were the midfield two.

Oxford lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Marcus McGuane sitting in front of the back four and ex-Baggie Jerome Sinclair up front.

On what was a day of record-breaking temperatures, the opening 20 minutes at the Kassam Stadium passed without incident with neither side creating a chance of note or having a shot on goal.

The first attack of any real substance arrived midway through the half when Oxford broke at pace.

Darnell Furlong of West Bromwich Albion at Kassam Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

But just as it looked like Sinclair was going to latch onto a through-ball and get in behind the Albion defence, Bartley produced a cynical foul of the forward that, in a competitive fixture, would surely have led to a yellow card but here was judged to just be a free-kick.

In what continued to be an incredibly dull game of football - Livermore saw a shot from just inside the area blocked for Albion.

At the other end, Jodi Jones produced a nice bit of skill in the area before also seeing a shot blocked.

But they proved to be the only half chances of what was an incredibly flat opening 45 minutes - with both teams playing with a distinct lack of urgency or tempo.

Albion made one pre-planned change at the break with Matt Phillips replacing Dike.

It meant Grant became Albion's central striker with Phillips operating on the left flank and Wallace continuing on the right.

It felt as though the second-half would have to be an improvement on the first.

John Swift of West Bromwich Albion at Kassam Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

But as the clock ticked past the hour mark, both teams were still struggling to create.

Molumby saw a shot inside the box blocked following a corner routine straight from the training ground.

The Republic of Ireland international then fired straight at goalkeeper Jack Stevens from 25-yards.

Finally, finally, with less than 20 minutes remaining the game started to brighten up.

Adam Reach, playing at left-back, charged down the left before sending in a low cross which Swift scuffed wide when he should have done better.

The Baggies then took the lead with a goal of genuine quality.

Swift produced a brilliant pass with the outside of the boot to get Grant charging into the box.

And he brilliantly held off his marker before firing low past Stevens and into the net.

Oxford almost pulled level immediately.

OXFORD, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Karlan Grant of West Bromwich Albion scores a goal to make it 0-1 at Kassam Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

A dangerous free-kick was met by John Mousinho.

And his header was kept out by a smart one-handed save by David Button.

Albion went on to make the scoreline more emphatic in the closing stages.

They doubled their lead from a corner that saw substitute Caleb Taylor nod the ball back into the danger area.

Grant was then on hand to head home from close range.

Then in the 87th minute, the Baggies made it four when a low cross was sent into the box which Sade turned past his own keeper under pressure from Swift.

TEAMS

Oxford: Stevens, Forde, Mousinho, Brown, Seddon (Golding 46), MGuane, Henry (Brannagan 46), Smyth (Browne 46), Jones, Bodin, Sinclair (Taylor 46).

Subs not used: Eastwood, Johnson, Davis, Goodrham, Owens, Spasov, Sade.

Albion (4-2-3-1): Button, Furlong, Bartley (Taylor 60), Ajayi, Reach, Livermore, Molumby, Wallace (Gardner-Hickman 84), Swift, Dike (Phillips 46).

Subs not used: Palmer, Ashworth, Townsend, Mowatt.

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