Possession lost 18 times: One-off disaster isn’t enough to drop developing WBA starlet – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets… 

West Brom put the first loss of their Championship season fully behind them by earning all three points in a thrilling six-goal encounter with Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.

In midweek, Slaven Bilic’s men lost the accolade of being the only unbeaten team in the division with defeat to Leeds United, on the same day the Bluebirds made it a seventh straight game without a loss themselves.

The Baggies’ enigmatic loan duo Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana both netted from range to give Albion a two-goal cushion heading into half-time with Charlie Austin and Romaine Sawyers bagging their first goals for the club.

There were a couple of nervy moments late on as super-sub Danny Ward netted a quickfire brace to have the game at 3-2 going into the final four minutes, but West Brom were able to hang on for a victory which saw them regain sole possession of the Championship lead.

Albion have managed just one clean sheet in their 11 league matches, so it didn’t come as a surprise to see them concede goals yet again and one of their defensive regulars was particularly poor for the first time this campaign.

Nathan Ferguson was promoted into the senior side during pre-season after impressing his Croatian boss, and he’s been a vital part of the squad playing in ten matches at right-back and, more recently, at left-back in Kieran Gibbs’ absence.

But for the first time this season, the 18-year-old was underwhelming – he lost possession a vast 18 times in the match and failed to register any tackles against his opposite number.

Substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing got the better of him after being introduced in the 58th minute as he assisted Ward’s first goal.

Ferguson was also dribbled past once and was particularly poor in his passing, recording an accuracy rate of just 74%, per SofaScore.

This performance might have pricked the ears of Gibbs, who was sitting on the bench – however, the former Arsenal man mustn’t get too excited as the young starlet deputising for him shouldn’t be dropped on the basis of one bad game.

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If you exclude the fact that he’s still very young and only playing in his first season at the professional level, he’s actually been an integral part of Bilic’s squad.

Last weekend he bagged the opening goal against Queens Park Rangers when the team had otherwise looked lacklustre, recording just three shots before his 53rd-minute solo effort.

He ranks as the fourth-best in the Albion side for average rating, per WhoScored, and has picked up two Man of the Match awards in their televised games.

Ferguson will do all the better for having this one blip – it will aid his development substantially as he can use it as a learning curve for the remainder of the season.

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