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Terry’s Baggies Blog

WEDNESDAY WEAK

11-03-2010

Terry Wills has had a good week, just about. He’s got a trip abroad to look forward too as well.

Queens Warnock Rangers 3 West Bromwich Albion 1.

For me that sums up why the Baggies crashed to a defeat to leave them conceding an automatic promotion spot, and needing to win Tuesday’s home game against Sheffield Wednesday to restore confidence. Not only in themselves but the fans that left Loftus Road bitterly disappointed.

Neil Warnock, as mentioned last week, has a nasty habit of turning around a clubs fortunes. Seemingly blessed by possessing the happy knack of convincing players that if they follow his inborn belief that the opposition can be beaten they have a very good chance of turning around a season however disappointing it’s been up to then. And NEVER, in my opinion was that more clearly illustrated than in this game.

More team changes. On loan Stephen Reid in, James Morrison starting his first game, Graham Dorrans and Robert Koren out. A team described as being knackered due to the number of matches played in such a short space of time, plus international fixtures.

The excuses were ready and waiting. And a combination of these, plus others advanced, could be put forward to somehow excusing the defeat. But they didn’t. From the kick-off Rangers players as if possessed, were first to the ball, hustled and bustled, won the 50/50, if not 40/60 challenges, and posed problems whenever they crossed the half way line.

First goal and again it was Scott Carson confirming to his many doubters that he makes far too many mistakes for a keeper that has represented his country. 13 minutes he failed to gather a cross, in dashed Jay Simpson (naturally) and we were a goal down.

Five minutes later it was two -sloppy marking allowing full back Matthew Connolly to advance unchallenged before slotting the ball home, and being honest I already felt the chances of a win had all but disappeared and just gathering one point would be very difficult.

Despite this the Baggies at last began to make inroads into the Rangers defence, climaxing in the 36th minute, Chris Brunt rounding off a move between Marek Cech and Simon Cox, to head the ball home. Raised hopes as Albion began to display something resembling their best form, the Rangers keeper being bought into action but at the break we were still behind due to that Warnock inspired start we’d been unable to match.

In the second half, being brutal, they simply failed to capitalise on the amount of possession they enjoyed. Openings created, openings missed. Plenty of scrambles in and around the Rangers penalty area, the home keeper blocking everything that came his way, while in direct contrast butterfingers Carson managed to see a long range free-kick tbounce over his head, hit the bar, and roll over the line for a ‘fluke’ third goal. Game over.

Even though we’d lost, as long as Nottingham Forest failed to beat Swansea we would still be in second place but when news came through that they’d won with a last minute goal that summed up the day. A disappointing display, too many players off form, defensive errors and powder puff finishing. Need more be said?

Sheffield Wednesday. A team that when playing at the Hawthorns down the years have won more games than the Baggies.

So based on history it wouldn’t have come as a great surprise if they’d returned back to Hillsborough with that statistic, and a precious three points, safely tucked away. An overview of the first half …in a single word DIRE, or in three words, WORSE THAN DIRE.

Sloppy defending, no midfield bite, no creativity, a lone striker in Luke Moore, lacking any sort of back up. In other words…? Add your own!

Mercifully the second half was an improvement but then it couldn’t have been worse. Eventually Mr Moore, much to the delight of the suffering supporters, found something to rouse them from their slumbers as Tiny Miller took his place and immediately began to pose the Wednesday defence genuine problems.

Chances and half chances were created, mainly from Chris Brunt playing in his natural position, wide left, and only a series of desperate defending and fine saves from the Owls keeper kept them in the game. But even so, whenever their best player, Jermaine Johnson was in possession, it was nail biting time.

He sped past them with unbelievable ease. REALLY possessing pace to trouble the best of defences, and as ours can hardly be classed in that category…..! Into the spotlight, Robert Koren, replacing an off form Jerome Thomas. He looked eager, won the ball, posed problems down the right hand side and with just 12 minutes remaining crashed home a goal that was too good to win a game as poor as this.

Relief ? You’d better believe it. Joyous scenes on and off the pitch. Hold on to the lead and the Baggies were back in second place. Don’t throw it away now.

They didn’t. The three points saw the match by match tussle between Albion and Forest once again swing our way, but with 11 games still remaining, and the Baggies form SO fluctuating, who is most likely to take the step up to the Greed League without recourse to the olay-offs? It’s is a question no one can answer with anything resembling certainty.

Next two games. Blackpool at the Hawthorns on Saturday followed by a first visit to Swansea’s new ground. That, judging by the Swans form and their place in a play-off spot, will be a test of character.

Here’s hoping that Di Matteo succeeds in his attempt to convince everyone that we are good enough to play at England’s highest level. Certainly the last two games could argue to the contrary but as always it’s not how good or poor a team are. What does matter is results, however they’re achieved.

Come on you Baggies.

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