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Terry’s Baggies Blog

IF ONLY…

15-04-2009

Terry Wills

A good performance at Pompey has Terry Wills wondering what might have been for the Albion.

Well we didn’t quite manage to pull off another longingly awaited away win at Fratton Park (the one and only coming way back in September at Middlesbrough), but at least the travelling Baggies faithful, who snapped up the full ticket allocation, journeyed home in a far more contented mood that pre match seemed in all honesty to be just an idle dream.

So what changed the attitude of the players who in last week’s “no show” game against Stoke City appeared to be devoid of ideas, lacking in spirit and application, and in all honesty a very poor advert for Premiership’ football.

The first puzzle of the day was the sight of an unknown 6 ft 3 inch player warming up with the squad. “Who’s that, anyone know him?”

“No, never seen him before” It transpired it was 17-year-old New Zealander Chris Woods. A promising striker who’d been scoring goals in youth and reserve team football.

A selection leaving supporters wondering if that meant Roman Bednar was either injured or out of favour. And Luke Moore, not only out of favour, but also out of Tony Mowbray’s thoughts for the players he wanted to keep at the Hawthorns come the start of next season?  For the record, Bednar was injured, Moore wasn’t.  Draw your own conclusions.

Onto the game, and a vastly improved performance that not only garnished a well deserved point but could have produced a so elusive three-point haul. If only this could have been a ‘normal’ display.

It was as if they realised that although mathematically they were still in with a chance of avoiding the drop deep down they knew the game, pardon the pun, was well and truly up.  As if saying, “Pressure off. Let’s show we aren’t as bad as everyone say’s we are”

For their part Pompey, also desperately needing a win to climb away from the relegation danger zone, went flat out for a quick goal but for once the Baggies defence stood firm.  Our bean-stick centre back, Jonas Olsson, was more than happy to swop kick for kick, head to head, challenge for challenge, with the even taller Peter Crouch, while alongside, Abdoulaye Meite was equally impressive.

Portsmouth’s opening goal was one that no defence could have prevented. When a right sided full back, cuts inside and unleashes a blistering left footed strike that had ‘goal’ written all over it, all Scott Carson, and grudgingly Albion fans could do was to sit back and admire the quality and hope we’d respond in kind.

Indeed they did. Pushing forward, using he ball well so well that the Radio Solent commentary team were ‘forced’ to confess/ admit “This West Brom team play some good football, I didn’t think David James would have such a busy afternoon from a team rooted to the bottom of the league”

As usual the midfield stroked the ball around even causing ‘Calamity James’ to pull off saves that could have levelled the scores. Chris Brunt, Robert Koren, Jonathan Greening, James Morrison, and particularly Graham Dorrans being outstanding.

Second half, and in front of the massed ranks of Baggies fans we witnessed and enjoyed 14 minutes of football bliss!
After all how often have Albion scored two goals in such a short space of time ESPECIALLY away from the Hawthorns? 

First a Greening equaliser following David James two ‘untidy’ attempts to keep the ball out of his net, and then more unrestrained delight as Chris Brunt hammered in a free kick albeit via a deflection off the backside of Graham Dorrans.

It couldn’t last of course. A wonderful free kick, which again would have been unstoppable by any defence, levelling the scores and for the remainder of the game both teams went flat out for a winning goal.

Marc Fortune ran and probed but he couldn’t find a way through.

Gianni Zuiverloon forced off due to an injury and replaced by Carl Hoefkens was back to something resembling his early season form, and coupled with Paul Robinson’s determination to defend and attack when necessary, looked more solid than in recent matches.

The ‘unknown’ Woods replaced Morrison for the last 15 minutes and for an untried youngster making a surprise debut he didn’t let himself or the team down.

Indeed with just a few minutes remaining he rose above the Pompey defence following a corner only to see his header sail over the bar-phew what an amazing debut that would have been.

So for Tony Mowbray and the supporters, a satisfying display leading Baggies fans wondering JUST who will be surplus to requirements come seasons end courtesy of his team selection when taking into account pre match injury problems.

Many have criticised various selections. And based on the infrequent use of many of his expected/accepted squad, and comments on the necessity to sell before he can buy, then it looks like we can anticipate seeing a ‘fire sale’ notice being touted around the footballing world in the not too distant future.

This week it’s yet another Sunday game away at the City of Manchester Stadium (what a mouthful compared with Maine Road), and it’ll be interesting to see just who Mogga’ chooses bearing in mind the promise of Woods, a fit Roman Bednar, and the statement from on loan Jay Simpson that he has no intention of returning to the Hawthorns next season as he wants to return to Arsenal and force his way into an Arsene Wenger line up.

Fair enough no one can blame him for that but as his form has ‘dipped’, if I were Tony Mowbray, I’d have no hesitation in selecting the players he has in mind to retain for next season’s Championship campaign.  (Ok, we aren’t down yet but anyone still prepared to think otherwise?)

Wishing and hoping for a positive result against a City team who themselves can either be very good or very bad. Worryingly their victories and good performances just happen to be when playing at home and we all know of Albion’s away record don’t we!

But let’s not be too disheartened and here’s to a repeat of the wonderful ‘clarion call’ vocal support that resounded around Fratton Park, plus of course a similar performance from the players.

“Come on you Baggies”

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