Richard Beale 'can't criticise' Kyle Bartley after red in late West Brom Millwall defeat

Interim boss Richard Beale refused to attach blame to Kyle Bartley for Albion's last-gasp defeat at Millwall.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Shaun Hutchinson of Millwall and Kyle Bartley of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship between Millwall and West Bromwich Albion at The Den on October 22, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Shaun Hutchinson of Millwall and Kyle Bartley of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship between Millwall and West Bromwich Albion at The Den on October 22, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The Baggies, who are understood to be nearing the appointment of a new boss with Carlos Corberan reported to be in advanced talks, led at The Den through John Swift but were pegged back and, following Bartley's late dismissal for two yellow cards, fell to Tyler Burey's 90th-minute winner.

Bartley, back in the side and matchday squad for the first time since the error-strewn home defeat to Blues on September 14, won praise for a dominant aerial performance but collected two yellow cards in the space of 17 second-half minutes – five minutes after which Burey popped up with the winner.

Beale said: "Red card aside, Kyle (Bartley) had a really good game. Did everything that we brought him back into the team to do. He looks like a boxer coming off the pitch there. He's got a really deep cut.

"It's disappointing for him to get sent off but I can't criticise him, he was a leader and he was a man. Won every first ball against Cooper from set pieces. He had a good game apart from the red card."

Bartley's first yellow was for a heavy challenge on Zain Flemming – as Beale ruled out a case of mistaken identity – and the second five minutes from time was for a clear shirt pull.

Beale strongly disagreed on the controversial decision by referee Andy Madley to award Millwall an extremely soft free-kick which led to the Lions' equaliser before the break.

"Yeah a real sickener today," he said in summary. "I thought the boys battled very well, showed a lot of heart and character which is what we asked for.

"We made a number of changes to inject that energy into the team and on top of that I thought in the second half we were better with the ball and created a few chances.

"Didn't do it enough in the first half but when we did, like the goal with the cutback finish which we had worked on. Ultimately not good enough, we lose the game and it was disappointing. The nature of the goals, we were hard done by. The lad throws himself into Darnell (Furlong), it was never, ever a foul.

"But we've got to do better with that set play. The second goal obviously comes after we're down to ten men and under a lot of pressure. It's disappointing.

"To a man, I thought the players were excellent today."

Beale revealed Brandon Thomas-Asante and Martin Kelly were left out of the matchday squad due to selection as the caretaker was keen to freshen up his squad – and subsequently made six changes.

Jake Livermore sustained a knock in training and travelled but was not involved.

Burey's late winner bobbled beyond Baggies goalkeeper Alex Palmer in an effort the keeper might have felt he could have kept out.

Beale agreed the keeper would be disappointed with the winner, but added praise for how Palmer has performed during his three-game tenure.

"I've seen the goal back and it just trickles in, it's agonizing for the whole team," added Beale.

"Again, in my time Alex has been excellent, he kept a clean sheet in that first game and the week before.

"He probably will be a bit disappointed himself, but it is what it is.

"Lots happened before that that we could've dealt with as well, it's tough on goalkeepers like that when things like that happen, but it was agonizing how it trickled over the line, he (Burey) hasn't caught it well, I think he's already gone down to that side.

"But it happens, he's a top goalkeeper and top lad, he'll bounce back."

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