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Terry’s Baggie Blog

JUSTICE SEEN TO BE DONE

28-01-2010

It’s been a decent few days for the Albion, with progress in the FA Cup and a hard-won point away from home in the promotion battle. Terry Wills brings us up to date.

What are the odds against seeing a repeat of Albion’s 1931 season, when they completed the unique feat of winning the FA Cup and promotion in the same season!?

When, incidently, the team beaten in the final was….Birmingham City!

Okay, dream over, as along with most Baggies supporters I realise this is unlikely, no extremely unlikely, despite the fact that Man Utd, Liverpool, and Arsenal have crashed out in the first two rounds.

But that still means far better teams, on paper at least, are still moving on and as among those are Manchester City, Villa, possibly Spurs, Blues AND Chelsea, the odds must be well and truly stacked against us should we manage to reach the quarter final by winning away against a rapidly improving Reading.

All this is pure speculation in contrast to the realisation that Newcastle suffered their first defeat in 14 games at the Hawthorns, in a game that while being described as unique on several fronts, was nevertheless very entertaining.

An unchanged 4-5-1 team and formation emerged worthy winners despite United’s manager, players and fans, feeling ‘slightly’ put out by the referee making, or in this case, not making, what they considered were questionable decisions!

A half-time 2-0 lead with a disputed ‘was it over the line?’ goal from Jonas Olsson followed by the first of Graham Dorrans’ two penalties was most acceptable. Despite the protests over Olsson’s goal, those in the best position to judge, including the referee’s assistant, had no doubt it WAS over the line.

Second half and as Newcastle upped their game early on the Baggies’ body language gave the impression that following the visitors’ first goal the game could have taken a turn for the worse. Then THE controversy. United players screamed for a penalty. “No” said the ref as a player lay injured in the penalty area. Albion played on leading to unrestrained joy at the Brummie Road end as Jerome Thomas was pulled back - the pointing finger from the referee signalled a second Albion spot kick and Graham Dorrans calmly netting again.

Aggravation, to put it mildly! United down to 10 men and put to rest when Jerome Thomas made it 4-1.

To their credit the Tyneside team continued to carry on pressing in added time and a second goal from Carroll was no more than they deserved. Make no mistake this WAS a satisfying victory and how I wished it had been a league came!
A good all-round team performance with Roman Bednar, Graham Dorrans and Jonas Olsson outstanding. Long may it continue - but would it? That was the question uppermost on our minds as we set out for Ipswich on Tuesday.

Portman Road on a VERY cold night, proved by the number of diehards who after clambering back on to the coaches to begin the long journey home, decided to keep their heavy coats on - and I certainly agreed.

But if that had been uncomfortable, what we’d seen during the game could have been described as being little short of a nightmare if it had ended with us watching, shivering, and cursing on the back of what would have been only our second away defeat of the season.

Frustration on the grand scale; by far the better team, a fact acknowledged by the Radio Suffolk commentator and summariser, who constantly praised the quality of the Baggies slick passing game and possession that should have guaranteed the three points to keep us hard on the heels of Forest and Newcastle.

However, these factors count for nowt if they aren’t turned into the most prized possession of all- goals Put away the chances and it’s three points. Fail, and the opposition will always be patiently waiting to snap whatever opportunities come their way.

And at the final whistle what we’d seen was just that.

From the kick-off Albion dominated. A third successive 4-5-1 unchanged team caused Ipswich problems and it seemed that it would be only a matter of time before some of the fluent approach work paid dividends.

Headers and shots either blocked or scrambled away. Corners caused the Town keeper problems, but in saying that it was Scott Carson who was forced to make at least three first class saves when it appeared an injustice was on the cards.

Second half and irony personified, recalling Newcastle’s aggravation at what they considered had been ‘questionable’ decisions, this time when the referee, following an Ipswich corner, pointed to the penalty spot. Looks of astonishment on the faces of Albion fans only bettered by those on the features of every Baggies player.

The radio commentator eventually decided it was because a Town player’s shirt had been tugged in a goalmouth scramble by Jonas Olsson. Had it? Rightly or wrongly it made no difference when Grant Leadbitter casually rolled the ball past Scott Carson to give Town the lead and land Albion in trouble.

Unjustly in arrears, but going flat out for an equaliser, the previous smooth approach game was replaced by a series of long deep crosses, or a hopeful up and under approach. To their credit the Town defence defended as if their very lives depended on it. The back four gobbled up virtually every cross, but even so Roman Bednar could and should have done better with some opportunities.

‘Tiny’ Miller and Simon Cox joined the fray to make it a triple threat for a Town team that must have thought victory was theirs as soon as the referee put whistle to lips to signal the end of added on time. Realising a defeat would mean Forest had opened a six points gap was uppermost in the mind was depressing to put it mildly but then...

A goalmouth scramble. Simon Cox saw a shot charged down. Enter the saviour as Chris Brunt, our charging knight on his white horse, arrived to stab the ball home.

We’d saved a point when all appeared to have been lost. Justice had been served.

So another valuable point towards the hoped-for promotion but with the chasing pack drawing ever closer, Cardiff and Swansea (both of whom we’ve yet to visit) now only five points behind in a bid to clinch a play-off place. Make no mistake, it’s going to be a long, nervous remaining 20 games before anything’s decided.

None will be easy and for sure Sheffield United, now in the middle of making their own promotion push, will present a formidable challenge when they visit the Hawthorns on Saturday for what will undoubtedly be another rugged stern challenge for Roberto Di Matteo’s men.

“ Come on you Baggies” 

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