West Brom were unable to give their returning fans something to shout about as they were well-beaten by West Ham at the Hawthorns on Wednesday evening.
It’s been a long 14 months without spectators in the stadium but the Baggies faithful were treated to a thrilling encounter that saw both teams muster up plenty of chances.
However, it was the classy visitors who punished them severely, which was understandable given they are one match away from sealing a place in Europe, compared to Albion’s fate already being confirmed.
There have been some positive performances under Sam Allardyce despite failing to stave off relegation, particularly defensively, but West Brom reverted back to their old selves as the backline could not deal with the Irons’ tricky attack.
Michail Antonio’s energy and ruthlessness caused all sorts of problems, especially for the towering Semi Ajayi, who endured a rare shocking night in the Midlands.
“Awful first minute when his undercooked pass backwards goal was latched on by Antonio,” wrote journalist Joseph Chapman. “Mercifully Rice fluffed the penalty. Looked rather shaky after that.”
The £6m-rated star struggled to have much of an influence in the game, registering just 38 touches, which was fewer than goalkeeper Sam Johnstone (48) and his defensive partner, Kyle Bartley (47).
He also managed only 17 passes throughout the 90 minutes, a rate of one every 5.7 minutes, only further emphasising how little he was involved on the night.
In addition to that, Antonio’s presence was a constant thorn in West Brom’s defence all game and that was reflected by Ajayi winning just three of nine duels (33%) and being dribbled past on one occasion, via SofaScore.
The 6 foot 4 colossus worryingly failed to make a single tackle or block.
It was certainly a one-off poor performance but with fans back in the ground, Ajayi badly let them down at the Hawthorns on Wednesday.