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Sam Johnstone a mystery absentee as Preston put ragged West Brom to the sword

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 2022-01-26
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England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was a mystery absentee as West Brom supporters turned on head coach Valerien Ismael during a 2-0 defeat to Prest.

Johnstone was expected to return after completing his three-match ban following his sending off against Cardiff, but he did not feature in the matchday squad.

His absence was not because of injury, illness or transfer related and he was replaced by David Button in the starting line-up.

Button was busy too as Preston dominated against a very lacklustre Albion, who failed to produce an effort on target goals from Emil Riis Jakobsen and debutant Cameron Archer won it for North End.

The second goal was the cue for Albion fans to chant for former head coach Slaven Bilic and sang ‘Valerien Ismael, your football is s***’.

The scene was set early as on Preston’s Brad Potts sent a free header wide from Ben Whiteman’s deep cross following a corner worked short.

The visitors appealed in vain for a penalty in the 13th minute.

Cedric Kipre appeared to catch Jakobsen from behind as they tussled for Alan Browne’s cross but referee Keith Stroud was unmoved.

Preston continued to look the more dangerous side and Greg Cunningham headed a deep free-kick across goal which had Button scrambling to hold at the second attempt.

Jakobsen flashed a fierce drive narrowly wide after Browne split the defence.

West Brom’s only serious attack came in the 37th minute.

Grady Diangana played a beautiful crossfield ball inside Potts and Adam Reach pulled the ball back to Alex Mowatt, who blazed high over the bar.

Preston gained a deserved lead in the 41st minute.

Ched Evans found Whiteman on the left and his first-time pass saw Cunningham cross and the ball hit Kyle Bartley before Jakobsen got the final touch.

Evans sent a dipping volley just over the bar after Kipre missed Daniel Iversen’s goal kick.

The half-time whistle was the cue for boos around The Hawthorns and muted chants of ‘What a load of rubbish’.

When the referee blew after Jakobsen fell in the box following a tussle with substitute Taylor Gardner-Hickman, North End thought they had won a penalty.

But instead the Danish striker was booked for diving.

Albion continued to look a sorry second best and it was 2-0 in the 76th minute.

Archer, who has just signed on loan from Aston Villa, headed home from a yard out after Browne ran at a retreating defence and teed up Cunningham to fire in an angled shot, which Button could only parry.

This proved the cue for a mass exodus from the home areas of the ground.

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