West Bromwich Albion secured a point in dramatic fashion at Bristol City on Saturday as Adam Reach’s 93rd-minute goal saw the Baggies clinch a 2-2 draw at Ashton Gate.
Nahki Wells had put the hosts ahead in the first half before Karlan Grant equalised from the penalty spot with 22 minutes to go. However, Andreas Weimann must have thought that he’d won it, with the former Aston Villa player scoring in the 85th minute, only for the Robins to lose their grip on victory at the death.
It’s another point for Steve Bruce’s side, who are now unbeaten in four matches after a rocky start to life under the 62-year-old as they picked up just one point in his first five matches in charge. However, having beaten league leaders Fulham on Tuesday, dropping points against 18th-placed Bristol City would certainly have been a disappointment.
No Albion player excelled in the West Country today, but young midfielder Taylor Gardner-Hickman particularly struggled.
Rated at 6.4/10 by SofaScore, only Grady Diangana and Sam Johnstone were deemed to have had worse games for West Brom than the 20-year-old, who had just 44 touches – a low tally given his position – and lost the ball on 11 occasions.
Moreover, the midfielder won just two of his ten duels during the 90 minutes, a win rate of just 20%, and committed three fouls. Gardner-Hickman also struggled to contribute defensively, offering no tackles, clearances, blocks or interceptions, whilst also being dribbled past once.
From a more positive outlook, the 20-year-old posted a 78% passing accuracy, but he will certainly be keen to do better in that department also.
The youngster is certainly a bright prospect, having now started West Brom’s last four matches in what has been the Englishman’s breakthrough campaign.
Having now made 15 first team appearances, being named in the matchday squad in a further 12 games, Bruce clearly thinks highly of the youngster – as did former Baggies manager Valerien Ismael, who handed him his senior debut.
What also makes Gardner-Hickman’s rise impressive is that that he was initially a right-back and has now developed into a central midfielder. However, there’s no doubt that his poor performance cost his team against the Robins, which was a shame after solid displays against Hull City, Huddersfield Town and Fulham.
With experienced midfielders such as Jake Livermore and Alex Mowatt at The Hawthorns, the 20-year-old will certainly need to learn quickly to maintain his place in the team.
There is no doubt that Gardner-Hickman will learn from today’s performance, which is all part of the process of developing into a regular first team player at a high level. However, Bruce will need to make a decision on whether or not he can rely on the young midfielder, with the Baggies still boasting an outside chance of sneaking into the play-offs with eight games to go.