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Terry's Baggies Blog

ALBION SHOOTING THEMSELVES IN THE FOOT

14-04-2008

The Baggies missed the chance to go clear at the top with a frustrating 1-1 draw against Watford on Saturday.  Do they REALLY want promotion wonders Terry Wills?

Believe it or not I never swear when watching a the Baggies in action!. Yes it’s true and yes perhaps, I’m unique. But this lifetime habit was very, very close to being broken after enduring a performance that must have led fans with a full head of hair, to tear it out in sheer frustration!

We all knew the pre match scenario. Stoke City had won but with both Bristol City and Hull City dropping points a win would give the Baggies a points lead at the top of the table with a game in hand and a vastly superior goal difference.  

As Churchill would say in his insurance advert…”Oh yes”!

The usual permutations. Zoltan Gera back to play wide. Kevin Phillips and ‘Tiny’ Miller up front in a 4-4-2 attacking line up.

A near enough sell out crowd, a frenetic atmosphere, what could possibly stop the Baggies going on to make our dreams reach fruition?

A five minute goal for Watford that’s what. Made even worse as it came from YET another set piece. Just how many IS that since starting the trend on August 15th at Burnley?

A left sided corner-failure to clear the ball and there was Watford's centre half, of all of all people, Leigh Brombey to lift the spirits of the Hornet’s supporters by netting from close range. “You Dummies don’t you ever learn?”

Annoyingly that was the first time they’d posed any sort of threat. Albion had gone in for the kill straight from the kick off, Zoltan Gera heading wide from a Jonathan Greening free kick and the signs were looking promising.

So the now, almost traditional one goal down, it had to be attack, attack, attack, which they did but any chances created were missed, the nearest when Neil Clement struck the bar from a free kick.

Watford for their part were capable of causing problems, whether from long balls, or throw ins, which frequently led to Albion’s defence looking unsteady and there was a noticeable feeling of uneasiness among the crowd as the players left the field for the break .

A huge (literally ) stumbling block had been the display of the player Albion had tied to sign last season, Danny Shittu. (Unfortunate name but not performance!)

He was a colossus. Throwing his body and winning virtually every ball in defence, while causing problems when surging forward to join in attacks.

One can only imagine what Tony Mowbray said during the break but whatever it was it had the desired effect.

Forty nine minutes the equaliser when for ONCE it was Albion scoring from a set piece. From the East Stand it appeared that Zoltan Gera strike had gone in direct but no the saviour had been Leon Barnett’s glancing header.

“GOAL”…now lets go on and win the game, ”Come on you Baggies”

Definitely a marked improvement. Zoltan Gera was inspirational, twisting and turning, to create openings, Robert Koren willing to get involved while at the back Paul Robinson wouldn’t concede an inch when defending while also being a constant menace when overlapping.

Chances were created but sadly wasted. Groans of frustration, but still no swear words as ‘Tiny’ missed with a cross cum shot. More agony as a Kevin Phillips header lacked sufficient power to trouble the keeper and again as Leon Barnett rampaging forward nodded wide from a Zoltan Gera header.

Came a great chance in the 66th minute. Kevin Phillips jinked the ball to Miller. His effort was saved by the keeper who then managed to recover sufficiently quickly to push away a James Morrison follow up.

What had been consistently frustrating was the over officious inconsistent of Referee Mike Dean. Ok every fan of every team will always claim “The Referee’s against us” but in this game how Mr Dean decided three Albion players were worthy of bookings while ignoring similar fouls from a physical Watford side only he knows.

Add to this Watford also managing to replicate the antics, no other word for it, the frustrating so OBVIOUS habit of time wasting. Who can possibly forget Stoke City at the Hawthorns?

Any hint of a challenge and down they’d go. A goal kick or throw in, an ‘age’ to take it - more non swearing!

James Morrison was replaced by Chris Brunt followed by Roman Bednar for Ishmael Miller but still a desperately needed second goal was eluding them.

The Baggies weren't helped by what the TV cameras confirmed was an awful decision by an assistant referee.  A trademark pass from Chris Brunt, there was Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar, a nonchalant finish from Bednar and the crowd erupted only for the cheers to be turned into groans subdued as the goal was disallowed for offside.

At the time I calmly accepted the decision BUT if I’d seen the clear fact that BOTH players were onside, that non swearing habit could have been well and truly shattered.

Time running out. More delaying tactics - jeers of derision - and then Watford decided to push forward looking for a late win by bombing long balls forward seemingly realising the next goal could win the game.

Then with just five minutes left on the clock the crowd were on their feet as Baggies Man of the Match Zoltan Gera burst forward and from 20 yards agonisingly saw his shot save the far post….”Damn it”.

So points shared and second in the table it remains open to question as to whether the Baggies can or will reach the ‘promised Land’.

Now its just ONE game in hand at Molineux on Tuesday.  A forecast? Not from me thank you. I’ll simply take my seat for the Black Country Cup Final and wait to see which Albion team turn up.

The one that at their best can beat any team in the Division or the one that looks as if they’ll concede goals any time the ball is aimed in Dean Kiely’s direction.

Not long to wait and here’s hoping its the former AND a happy journey back from Molineux for those increasingly frustrated Baggies supporters.

“Come on you Baggies”

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