Frustration will surely have lingered in Darren Moore long after he and the players touched down in Dubai on Saturday night.
After weeks of attempting to haul in Norwich, Albion had them exactly where they wanted them – a goal down in the final stages of their Hawthorns showdown.
But Jordan Rhodes’ 83rd minute strike, with his first touch from the bench, wiped out the Albion advantage established through Dwight Gayle’s first-half goal.
West Brom just can’t knock the Canaries off their perch. Not that a win would have sent Albion back into the top two for the first time since October.
Sheffield United’s gritty 1-0 defeat of QPR put paid to that particular ambition.
But it would have nudged Albion ahead of Daniel Farke’s men on goal difference. And it would have provided the perfect tonic after a troublesome build-up to the big match.
Watch: Paul Suart discusses the Baggies’ first game minus Harvey
West Brom’s worst fears were realised when Leicester City opted to recall Harvey Barnes on Friday.
The ‘will he, won’t he’ saga finally ended when Leicester boss Claude Puel decided he’d seen enough of Barnes’ brilliance from afar and wanted a closer look.
There was a further setback when influential midfielders Matt Phillips and James Morrison were forced to withdraw through injury.
In spite of all the adversity, Albion made a dream start.
They were the team in the ascendancy and were good value for the lead Gayle provided with a smart finish in the 12th minute.
Farke was the first to admit his team were second best in the early exchanges.
“The first 20 minutes West Brom were the better side,” the German said.
“We didn’t play confident enough in the first 20 minutes, we were not at our game.
“I got the feeling we were a bit impressed with the atmosphere and also the quality of the big names at West Brom.”
Jay Rodriguez, Hal Robson-Kanu and Gareth Barry all had chances to extend a lead that became increasingly fragile.
Only Albion have scored more Championship goals than Norwich.
And while the visitors didn’t exactly lay siege to the hosts’ goal, there was still a sense of inevitability about Rhodes’ equaliser – the latest in a long line of late goals for Norwich this term.
“The teams at the top of the league, there’s a resilience to them and I thought Norwich showed resilience,” Moore said.
“I’m not disappointed at all. No way can I be disappointed with that, I thought it was an excellent performance. We controlled the game for long spells.
“Our work in training was evident and on show. We didn’t allow Norwich any momentum.
“And we were trying to get that second goal, right from the start of the second half. You saw our intentions straight away.
“Everything was about trying to get three points. It was a great performance against high-level opposition.”
There were certainly more positives than negatives. Gayle’s goal-scoring return and the performances of Mason Holgate, Rekeem Harper and Barry sit amongst the former.
But these two dropped points will surely rankle.
The coaching and playing staff have flown to Dubai for warm weather training. We all know what happened the last time Albion embarked on a similar trip last year!
There will be no clowning around this time or any subsequent misery on the pitch. Albion lost six on the spin after they returned from that regrettable break in Barcelona.
In the sunny climes of the Middle-East, Albion have the chance to regroup and recharge before seeking out a much-needed win in the less salubrious surrounds of Bolton.
Source : BirminghamMail