Silenced: WBA regular starting to prove his critics wrong after superb showing – 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’s unbeaten run to life in the Championship under Slaven Bilic finally came to a halt as Leeds United were victorious at Elland Road on Tuesday evening.

Left-back Ezgjan Alioski bagged the only goal in the 1-0 win as he rifled an effort home via a Kyle Bartley deflection less than ten minutes before half-time.

The home side were made to work for their three points as the Baggies mounted an onslaught of serious pressure throughout the second half, recording 67.3% possession.

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But their dominance came to no avail as Marcelo Bielsa’s side leapfrogged them to take sole possession of the league’s lead.

For the most part, Bilic named an expected starting XI though there was the surprise inclusion of Hal Robson-Kanu, a player Football FanCast tipped to start this very match earlier in this week.

It’s fair to say that experiment didn’t work out as the veteran forward managed just one shot at goal before he was replaced after an hour.

West Brom could also count themselves lucky that they didn’t lose the match by a wider margin – even despite being on top for large spells as Leeds still had their chances.

Sam Johnstone, the man between the sticks, was their saviour at times on Tuesday night.

Per SofaScore, the 26-year-old made eight saves, five of which were inside the penalty area – including this outstanding double stop…

He also managed one punch and one high claim as he asserted his authority in the Baggies’ box.

The former Manchester United shot-stopper has received flack for his performances on Twitter over the course of the season while some have even called for Jonathan Bond to replace him. However, this latest showing is sure to silence his critics.

Bilic brought in a third keeper early last month in Ali Al-Habsi, but Johnstone has managed to keep hold of his number one spot, and with matches like this one, that’s no surprise to see.

It could well have been a different, and far greater scoreline had the shot-stopper not been on the top of his game.

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