Kyle Bartley: West Brom believe despite defeat
Goalscorer Kyle Bartley reckons Albion's impressive performance in defeat at Southampton was a sign belief is flowing in the squad.
The powerful central defender netted his side a deserved equaliser after the hour at St Mary's but despite pushing for a winner Carlos Corberan's side succumbed to a late Adam Armstrong goal following some poor defending.
The 2-1 reverse meant a haul of 10 points from a possible 15 from the block of games between two international breaks as the Baggies now pause from Championship action for a fortnight. Three wins, a draw and defeat have Corberan's men seventh after 16 games, only outside the play-offs on goal difference.
In-form Southampton provided one of the division's sterner tests and there is no let-up after the break, with top two Leicester and Ipswich at The Hawthorns alongside trips to Cardiff and Sunderland, who are both inside the top nine.
Bartley and Co. were applauded off at St Mary's and the defender believes the side's display showed belief in a will to push for an aim of at least the top six this season.
“It’s something we’ve got to learn from but the general feeling is that the performance was really good," said Bartley, who scored for the second time this season.
“We can use that frustration and disappointment from losing the game. We need to come back in a couple of weeks and, hopefully, those things will fuel us to get a really good result.
“The belief has always been there. I believe in all the players, myself, the manager, club, and that was a performance to really show people that, but we need to use it as motivation to really kick on from this."
Will Smallbone struck a fifth-minute opener on Saturday as Southampton, now unbeaten in eight with six wins, showed their quality to slice through Albion.
But Corberan's visitors clicked into gear before half-time and took the game to their hosts. A couple of opportunities came the way of Brandon Thomas-Asante, Matt Phillips also went close, before Darnell Furlong headed Conor Townsend's cross against the crossbar at 1-1.
Albion, and Townsend, were then caught out 11 minutes from time as Ryan Fraser's cross made its way across to Armstrong to convert after Albion's left-back had been caught inside.
“We had a difficult start to the game but we were grew into it and there were periods in that second half which I thought we dominated," Bartley added.
“We should’ve taken more of our opportunities but at the end of the day, we didn’t defend our box well enough for that second goal and we got punished."
The defender said of an appreciative response from most of the 3,000 travelling fans at full-time: “It means the world to us, the away fans have been absolutely outstanding ever since I came here and if we perform badly, they’ll let us know and today, even though the result wasn’t what we wanted, they all stayed till the end.
“They clapped us off, we clapped them and that togetherness is going to be really important if we’re going to achieve our goals this season.
“We’re probably where we deserve to be. We’ve managed to get things going and we’ve had some big injuries to some key players who will hopefully come back after the international window.
“It’s just time to kick on from there and really string together some results."
Albion are due to recover John Swift, Josh Maja and Adam Reach during the international break, who are all expected to step up a return to team training.