Birmingham,The Stirrer, Black Country

news that matters, campaigns that count

for Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond

Terry’s Baggies Blog

“WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE”

10-02-2010

Albion stumbled to the top of the Championship last night, with an unconvincing display against lowly Scunthorpe. But as Terry Wills observes, it’s the result that matters.

Saturday 6th at Home Park - Plymouth Argyle 0 West Bromwich Albion 1. A victory to keep Baggies one point ahead of Nottingham Forest after a second away win in three days. Left the impressive 2,000 plus travelling fans enjoying the game almost as much as the weather (!) and meant the second automatic spot was still there for the taking. Providing they continued to match Forest’s results.

The three points was all that mattered. How good, mediocre, indifferent, poor, or bad a team performs, doesn’t matter one iota. Supporters have the immediate ‘bragging rights’ - so bring it on.

So which category did this performance fall into following the displays against Sheffield United and Blackpool, when a dazzling 45 minutes had the media and supporters ‘drooling’ only to be followed by a second-half turnaround that led to the opposition feeling they were in with a chance of snatching something?

At best it could only fall under the ‘indifferent’ heading, but on reflection there were reasons for Di Matteo rotating the team when and where he felt it was most needed. Thus no place in the starting line-up due to the need to rest players, and injuries. Out Olsson, Jara, Cech-Koren, and Miller. In Mattock, Meite, Zuiverloon and Simon Cox.

Also the state of the pitch! Truly dreadful. Even Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, three days earlier, following a heavy outbreak of sleet and snow, was in far better shape. Humps, bumps, divots it had the lot but even so some of the Baggies passing, in the first half particularly, could only be described as being disappointing.

For their part Plymouth were more than happy to compete in every sense of the word.

Goalless at the break and as the players trooped off I wasn’t alone in bemoaning the genuine lack of quality coming from a game from which we definitely needed the three-points especially as Forest were in front against Sheffield Wednesday.

As to the second half this was reported as being ‘ bad tempered’. No argument there. Both sides were more than literally happy to trade blow for blow . On came Luke Moore for the Roman Bednar who once again had been a thorn in the side of the opposition. Sixty six minutes and at last a goal -Simon Cox wheeling away in delight. We were ahead, now make sure we had the defensive quality to frustrate an increasingly frustrated and ever growing physical Argyle.

Then the moment we should have sealed the game. Luke Moore was hacked down in the ‘box’ (another penalty!) but as most keepers in the country had seen, courtesy of television, just where Graham Dorrans puts his spot kicks, this time he decided to change direction.

Wrong decision - it was pushed away. Would we pay for it? More heavy tackles from both sides particularly from David McNamee.

Jerome Thomas was a victim and before the end of the official 90 minutes, and he wasn’t alone, began to extract take revenge whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Argyle bombed forward, no pretence of ‘pretty’ football-niggling tackles, words being exchanged, culminating with Jerome Thomas trooping off as the referee decided enough was enough. A melee as individuals from both clubs decided to join in. Players and officials, and from where we were standing the only ones not swinging punches (!) were the mascots, ‘Baggie Birds’ and the ‘Pilgrims’ progress!

No argument from Di Matteo on the red card, and unless the talented Thomas learns what’s needed to curb his flashpoint temper, this second red won’t be his last. (Depending of course whether Di Matteo comes round to thinking that a player who has a nasty habit of missing vital games isn’t worth the risk of holding down a regular place in his team?)

Who caught the eye? Certainly Gabriel Tamas, his best game to date. Graham Dorrans despite his penalty miss, and the ever willing, always dangerous Roman Bednar.

But whatever the failings, those last long lingering added on minutes proved one thing. At times this season, under pressure, some players appear not too have pulled their weight. At ‘Bog Park’ they chased, tackled, and fought to hold on to the Simon Cox goal and were justifiably rewarded.

It could almost be describe as being Gary Megson inspired- the type that bought us so many vital odd-goal victories.

So three points tucked away and a home game on Tuesday against lowly Scunthorpe. What would this result determine? We could only hope the relative teams positions in the ‘Fizzy Pop’ League table proved this was a true reflection on the situation.

Ok it did EVENTULLY prove the case as surprisingly both Newcastle and Forest lost games -Albion won 2-0 and subsequently found themselves top of the League. But in a nutshell this could well be described as their most unconvincing home performance of the season.

For once (!) we weren’t clinging desperately on to a single goal lead with around 5 minutes remaining and the Baggies faithful praying to hear the final whistle. In fact after a brilliant 13th minute back flick goal from Roman Bednar following a sublime move, they probably expected to see Scunthorpe crumble and return home soundly defeated.

How wrong could they be? Until the 84th minute second goal from substitute Gianni Zuiverloon it had been a thoroughly unappealing display.

Scunthorpe had dominated in terms of possession but thankfully they rarely tested Scott Carson, who’s kicking incidentally was as equally wayward as it had been at Plymouth. What was the excuse this time Scott seeing as the Hawthorns pitch didn’t resemble the Argyle ‘Bog’?

No doubt three matches in a matter of days had proved a strain and a test of character. Albion appeared tired, could say listless, and of the two teams they more resembled the one struggling to avoid a bottom three spot than one chasing promotion back to the ‘Greed League’.

New signings… Frank Nouble started before being replaced late on by Andy Slory, both looking lively although not yet match fit -as for the rest let’s just hope this was a ‘collective’ off night.

But again despite the amount of possession Scunthorpe enjoyed, ALL of the genuine scoring chances fell to the Baggies. Before his sublime opening goal Roman Bednar fired high, wide, and not very handsome, while in the second half who else but Chris Brunt could fail to even test the keeper when finding himself one on one with the keeper.

So off we go again with next week’s two games away from home. First up the 5th Round Cup match at Reading where the last thing we need is a possible replay, followed by a tricky visit to Cardiff City’s new ground.

Prospects? Who knows BUT I do know that if we do go out of the Cup there won’t be an immediate feeling of disappointment and despair as sadly in these cash driven ‘crisis’ times, the majority of clubs first aim is either to retain either their Premiership status. Or as in Albion’s case hope to join them in a similar campaign the following season.

“Come on you Baggies”

DISCUSS THIS ON THE STIRRER FORUM

Google

The Stirrer Forum

The Stirrer home

valid xhtml

©2006 - 2009 The Stirrer