West Brom beaten at Swansea as slim play-off hopes end on final day
West Brom missed out on the Sky Bet Championship play-offs after losing 3-2 at Swansea.
Albion started the final day in eighth, needing to win to keep their promotion bid alive, and hopes of extending their season were raised after Okay Yokuslu and Semi Ajayi twice gave them the lead in South Wales.
But Luke Cundle and Olivier Ntcham equalised and, with results elsewhere going against them, Joel Piroe sealed their misery in stoppage time with a brilliant free-kick.
In the event, West Brom spent just four minutes of the final day in the play-off places – the time between a Blackburn equaliser at Millwall and Cundle’s leveller – and Coventry and Sunderland joined Luton and Middlesbrough in the play-off positions.
Albion – second bottom of the Championship when Carlos Corberan succeeded Steve Bruce in October – finished the season ninth, with Swansea just below them on goal difference after taking 21 points from their final nine games.
There is plenty for Russell Martin to build on and the Swansea boss will hope fresh investment at the club will allow him to strengthen this summer.
West Brom were almost ahead inside four minutes when Ryan Manning, possibly fouled, lost possession on the edge of the Swansea box.
Jed Wallace sent an inviting cross to the far post where Brandon Thomas-Asante skewed wide.
Jamie Paterson was off-target at the other end before Albion took a 13th-minute lead after Ajayi put Ntcham under pressure.
Swansea calls for a free-kick again went unheeded and John Swift intelligently picked out the unmarked Yokuslu to drive home his fourth goal of the season.
Albion fans were celebrating once more when a Blackburn equaliser at Millwall put them into the top six.
But delight was cut short as the advancing Piroe played the ball into Paterson and his cute lay-off allowed Cundle to finish in style.
The fact that midfielder Cundle, on loan from their local rivals Wolves, was the player to equalise simply added to their misery.
West Brom replied immediately with Karlan Grant testing Andy Fisher low down and the Swansea goalkeeper was also equal to Thomas-Asante’s angled attempt.
Swansea started the second half on the front foot and Paterson curled wide before Piroe fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
Albion had renewed hope after 54 minutes when Conor Townsend caused confusion from a Swift corner and Ajayi ended some ping-pong in the Swansea penalty area with a superbly controlled half-volley.
But Swansea came roaring back and were level again after 66 minutes.
Ntcham found a yard by letting the ball run across his path and smashed an unerring low shot past the helpless Alex Palmer.
Swift wasted a clear opening to restore Albion’s lead and, with their task increasingly beyond them, Piroe curled home his 20th goal of the season with virtually the last kick.