CARLING CUP: Hartlepool Utd 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 (after extra time)
It is hard to imagine that the Carling Cup registers high on West Bromwich Albion's list of priorities this season but the manner in which Tony Mowbrays fringe players made a complete hash of their second round tie at Hartlepool United does not bode well for their Premier League campaign.
After a superb goal from Robert Koren three minutes from normal time saved them from the most humbling of exits, Hartlepool United scored twice in the first half of extra-time to seal the win.
Albion can have no complaints.
Mowbray made six changes from the side that lost against Everton and few of the replacements took their opportunity to impress against League One opposition.
Hartlepool United were up for it, make no mistake about that, but Albion never made their class tell.
Most eyes were on Luke Moore and Borja Valero, Albion's record signing who made his debut here, and both made sedate starts to their careers as Baggies players.
That said, Valero can be forgiven this was hardly what he signed up for and to his credit his performance vastly improved after the break.
Far more concerns surround Moore whose performance level dipped alarmingly as the game progressed.
The match took some time to get going; the first half saw technique give way to a frantic pace and harassment due to some hard-working Pools and it was the home side that fashioned the best chance of the half when striker Joel Porter latched on to a nicely weighted ball from Antony Sweeney to go clean through on Kiely, only to see his attempted chip sail over.
Albions best chance of the half fell to Valero on 36 minutes.
After Marek Cech and Moore had shots deflected, the ball fell to the Spaniard's left foot but he missed the target when he should have done better.
Albion improved marginally after the break thanks to Sherjill MacDonald, who rightly has his detractors, but his direct running caused plenty of problems.
As time wore on, Albion's growing impatience became more evident, a mood not helped by their inability to convert some decent opportunities or by a side unwilling to give up on the palpable chance of an upset.
Valero gave a glimpse of what he is capable of by releasing Moore with a sublime pass but the striker hesitated and his shot was blocked. Korens follow up was deflected agonisingly over the bar with the keeper wrong-footed.
Barnett was culpable for Hartlepool's opener. He was caught in possession by Gary Liddle who crossed across the six-yard box for Porter to slam home.
Valero became more influential but Albion couldnt force the breakthrough.
MacDonald remained their most pertinent threat, beating players at will but too often wasting the final pass or shot.
He was integral to the equaliser, starting the move which ended in Koren's magnificent strike, curled in to the top corner from 25 yards to force extra-time.
Albion started it brighter and, by now, most things were finding their way through Valero, surely a sign of things to come.
MacDonald spurned a good chance from a corner and Craig Beattie hit the bar from a free-kick, expertly won by Valero, but it was Hartlepool who took the lead against the run of play.
Unlike Albion's defenders, substitute David Foley was alert to a quick a free-kick and after scuffuing his first attempt the ball fell for him to fire home the second.
How Albion did not equalise is a mystery Jonathan Greening hit the crossbar, the third time the Baggies had done so but they were soon out of it in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Richard Barker latched to a probing cross from the left to head home at the back post.
Scorers: Porter 1-0 (62); Koren 1-1 (87); Foley 2-1 (102); Barker 3-1 (105).
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2): Lee-Barrett; McCunnie, Nelson, Collins, Humphreys; Sweeney, Jones, Liddle, Monkhouse (Robson 57); Brown (Foley 85), Porter (Barker 85). Subs not used: Budtz, Power, Mackay, Robson, Powell.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-4-2): Kiely ; Hoefkens, Barnett, Meite, Cech; Koren (Pele 95), Greening, Valero, Brunt (MacDonald 45); Moore, Bednar (Beattie 65). Subs not used: Dorrans, Pele, Carson, Slusarsksi, Martis.
Booked: Bednar 54 (foul) MacDonald 106 (foul).
Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorks)
Albion Man of the match: Sherjill MacDonald the only Albion player who caused a persistent threat.