SWINDON Town began their EFL Trophy campaign with a defeat following a 3-2 loss at home to West Bromwich Albion under 21s on Tuesday night.

Town were two goals down to the young Baggies before a goal from Tyler Smith threatened to pave a way back into the game for Richie Wellens’ men.

A spectacular third from Taylor Gardner-Hickman secured the points for West Brom before Paul Caddis turned unlikely scorer to set up a nervy end for the visitors.

Yet, Town could not find the equaliser they desired and Wellens watched his team fall to defeat for the second time this season.

Town manager Wellens made seven changes to the side that was beaten 3-1 by Charlton Athletic in the League Cup on Saturday.

Matej Kovar, Akin Odimayo, Ellis Iandolo and Jack Payne retained their places in the starting XI while Matt Smith and Brett Pitman made their full debuts for the club.

There was also a rare start for Matt Palmer – also making his full debut. The midfielder played just four minutes after signing from Rotherham in January.

Academy Graduate Toby Holland found a place on the bench.

Though Town started the game brightly, chances were few and far between for either side.

The first real talking point of the game came after a quarter of an hour when a West Brom attacker found space between Iandolo and Odimayo and received a pass through on goal.

The covering Taylor Curran applied pressure into the attacker’s back before the West Brom man went down.

Though plenty of vociferous appeals were heard, nothing was given and Town survived.

Moments later, the Baggies spurned another decent opportunity when Tyrese Dyce faced Odimayo up one on one.

However, excellent awareness from Odimayo forced the striker wide before blocking the left-footed shot with his legs.

Town were next to go close when dancing feet from Jonny Smith saw the winger jive away from the attentions of three Baggies players.

Smith laid a pass off to Pitman to strike first time, but the new man’s right-footed shot curled just the wrong side of the post from a Town perspective.

West Brom did make the breakthrough midway through the first half however, Dyce cutting inside Caddis before drilling a low shot past the helpless Kovar’s right hand to give his side the lead.

The goal did nothing to dampen Swindon’s spirit though – Wellens’ men responding with a number of chances of their own.

Payne, Pitman and Paul Caddis all set their sights at goal, but all three shots went wide of Ted Cann’s right-hand post.

Payne went closest for Town in the first half just before the break as he cut inside from the right but fizzed his effort straight at Ted Cann in the West Brom goal.

A helter-skelter start to the second half saw shouts for a Town penalty waved away when the ball appeared to strike a hand before West Brom broke sharply to double their lead in the 47th minute.

Owen Windsor was played through one-on-one down the right side of the box before steadying himself and lashing past Kovar with his left foot.

Town searched for a way back into the game, but a stingy West Brom defence was keen to make the hosts work for every opportunity.

Crosses from Hope and Iandolo found no end product time after time as the corner count racked up.

West Brom on the other hand appeared dangerous during every counter-attack, and on one such occasion they almost made it three.

Harmon drove forward out of defence before setting his sights – only a good save from Kovar denied the Baggies man.

Then, a five-minute period of three goals midway through the second half saw a lost game find its way again.

Swindon pulled a goal back after Tyler Smith nodded in unmarked at the back post via a Payne cross before West Brom reinstated their two-goal lead in the 73rd minute.

Gardner-Hickman lashed a first time volley past Kovar from the edge of the box, only for Caddis to volley a less spectacular effort home a minute later.

A bodged clearance from Kovar gave West Brom a great chance to finally kill the game off with five minutes remaining, but Windsor lashed his effort well over when set.

Payne and Matt Smith both had good late chances to force penalties, however Payne could only find the arms of Cann while Smith blazed over when under no pressure.