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Terry’s Baggies Blog

JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS

17-12-2009

At long last Terry Wills has found the Albion have something in common with Manchester United – a vital last-second goal.

A game is never lost until it’s won. It only takes a second to score a goal. Never leave a game early because you never know what you may miss. And always expect the unexpected.

All comments that down the years I’ve learned to live with, ESPECIALLY if you happen to support West Bromwich Albion. But no doubt thoughts replicated by fans of every club, whoever they have the ‘misfortune’ to support!

And in this context all these traits have shone brightly through the recent gloomy, dank, miserable conditions Baggies fans have endured as they’ve watched games that have dramatically changed a healthy looking automatic promotion spot, to one that looks to be more than a dodgy challenge to achieve what has to be their sole aim.

Never more appropriate and apparent than watching Albion doing everything in their power to gift Queens Park Rangers three points at the Hawthorns in another mid-week clash that had so much at stake. Yet at the final whistle, the stoppage time equaliser from Simon Cox left the remaining Baggies supporters feeling they’d actually won the game!

(When I say those remaining I wonder how just how many of those who upped seats feeling the game was good as lost, felt when they heard the roar to celebrate our ‘get out of jail’ card goal that left Di Matteo’s squad three points ahead - four counting goal difference - of the chasing pack who themselves had been picking up win bonuses and naturally feeling they were in an even more challenging position should the Baggies fall away).

Team changes, including the return of Luke Moore and Jerome Thomas up front, in the opening stages caused Rangers to back peddle at a rate of knots. Their keeper seemed nervous and hesitant under pressure and with Albion pushing forward at every opportunity it appeared we were in for a more impressive display than against Cardiff.

Certainly the return of Jerome Thomas caused massive problems for the Hoops –he had the beating of his marker, and cutting inside looked the most likely to create or score a badly needed opening goal.

It didn’t happen due to a combination of sloppy passing, the spurning of chances, over elaboration and the increasing habit of allowing opponents to run through midfield without a hint of a challenge. Had they learnt nothing from the Cardiff game when Chris Burke ran them ragged?

Supporters feelings and reaction became increasingly critical, the general feeling being that Di Matteo must surely express his displeasure with a very strong team talk (in other words a rollicking) stressing the first 45 minutes had been a massive let down.

Initially it appeared to have worked. Constant pressure, via a much-needed injection of urgency and pace sadly disappeared as quickly as it had arrived leading to Rangers beginning to become increasingly the more likely to draw first blood.

They did. 56 minutes and from a corner Jonas Olsson, under pressure headed into his on net. 0-1 Oh no…

A minute later it could have been 0-2 but for a fantastic reflex save from Dean Kiely and the feeling was growing we were watching a re-run of that miserable performance against Cardiff.

That surely was the case when following a another Kiely save the ball rebounded off Joe Mattock to hand Kaspars Gorkss the simplest chance he’ll ever receive to nod home the second.

The Baggies strike-force, pardon the laughter when describing Luke Moore as such, seemed utterly determined to spurn whatever chances came along. There was Albion’s most expensive signing bearing down on goal. “Shoot man, shoot.”

Not the ex-Villain. He took so long that by the time he FINALLY realised he could drag Albion back into contention a grateful defender blocked his effort and the ball was cleared.

Enough was enough for RDM. On came Chris Wood to beef up the attack without any noticeable improvement, although at times the number of chances created in and around the six yard box but frustratingly spurned, seemed well on the way to increasing the departing number of disillusioned fans, even at this early stage rapidly increasing in number.

67 minutes, a cross and following another scramble the deficit was 2-1 courtesy of Jerome Thomas. “Come on you Baggies” !

At last a sense of urgency and Di Matteo, obviously listening to Bomber Brown’s local radio comments (!) replaced Gianni Zuiverloon with Roman Bednar. “Get into the box. Put them under pressure. Stop passing it around in your own half. You won’t save the match if you can’t score again”

As time ebbed away the Baggies did recognise that was the truth. More scrambles, more huffing and puffing, decisions by a referee who’d decided the Sky cameras were his opportunity to show the referees panel and millions watching what a good referee lay in waiting should he be appointed to officiating in the Greed League

If so, Mr A. Taylor, don’t programme your SatNav to direct you to Old Trafford. Your display confirmed Oldham or Orient are your natural habitat.

Three minutes added time. Rangers defending in depth - the keeper grabbing every opportunity to gather the ball and waste precious seconds in the process. Baggies fans screaming and fuming in the process.

The 180 seconds were up, it had to be game over! But what’s this? No final whistle, a shot from Chris Wood parried away and with EVERY Baggies fan on their feet pandemonium raged as Simon Cox cracked home the equaliser.

Saved a point and left Rangers players and supporters feeling robbed and disappointed they’d been so close to a win that there wasn’t even enough time to restart the game.

But being truthful, this was another disappointing display. Apart from Jerome Thomas there was little threat going forward, the midfield were far too casual while the defence at times looked as solid as Christmas jelly apart from Dean Kiely.

What’s in store this week? The weather forecast is warning temperatures below zero, snow and or sleet showers on the way and advice to stay indoors or wrap up warm.

So for me, along with those who have snapped up every ticket available, it means sitting in uncovered, unreserved seating at of all places BLACKPOOL! Wonder if the stewards will allow hot water bottles and umbrellas to be smuggled in should the forecast proved correct?

Whatever the weather we need a result and reluctantly, based on current form, Pool are exactly the type of opponents more than capable of running out winners. But then hopefully this forecast will be as wide of the mark as will those weather forecasters, who are only proved wrong when they predict warm, sunny weather.

“Come on you Baggies”

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