Roberto Di Matteo insisted Albion’s draw against Walsall underlined that there was still a long way to go until his side would be ready for the new season.
Albion battled back from 2-0 down to claim a draw, but the Italian was unhappy with aspects of his side’s display.
Walsall scored twice in the final two minutes of the opening half, through Dwayne Mattis and a long-range effort from Matt Richards. Luke Moore pulled one back for Albion before earning his side an 87th-minute penalty which Craig Beattie converted.
“It was an interesting game – it was good to learn certain things,” said Di Matteo. “You can learn a lot from games like this. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I learned a few things about a couple of players so we still have a lot to do.
“It’s pre-season so we are having to work a lot in between games. You can see the demands and physicality we will encounter in the Championship. We have to learn to deal with that.”
Albion’s failure to deal with Richard Taundry’s cross led to Walsall grabbing the opener. The winger’s cross was too high for Dwayne Samuels, allowing Richards to sneak in at the far post and nod the ball straight to Mattis, who scrambled the ball through a bank of defenders and past goalkeeper Scott Carson.
That came in the 44th minute, Walsall’s second followed within a minute. Alex Nicholls laid the ball straight to Richards, who struck his long-range shot into Carson’s top left corner.
It was Chris Brunt who had the first sniff of goal for Albion in the second-half. Collecting the ball on the right-wing, the Northern Ireland man ran into a more central position and unleashed a stinging, but inaccurate, long-range shot. Robert Koren too tried his luck with a 20-yard shot. Recent signing Simon Cox went close to breaking his duck for Albion when he raced on to Brunt’s right-wing cross but failed to get a touch to the ball. Moments later he was replaced by Craig Beattie.
It was this strike-partner Luke Moore got more joy from. He collected Brunt’s 61st minute cross and managed to hold off the challenge of Mark Hughes to drill a low shot past substitute goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin.
The Baggies pressed late on as Walsall, having changed nine of their side, were unable to compete with their opponents’ quality. The equaliser came from Beattie’s spot-kick after Gilmartin brought down Moore.