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Terry’s Baggies Blog

THE MAGIC OF THE CUP (I)

06-01-2010

As our teams take time off from the league programme to begin the slippery path to FA Cup glory, Terry Wills seems familiar faces everywhere.

Thank goodness that’s over! An uncomfortable journey to Huddersfield in blinding snow, sitting throughout the game as the temperature plunged ever downwards. 94 minutes of a typical cup- tie that eventually saw Albion move relatively smoothly into the fourth round, followed by a long tedious journey back home due to the weather and the volume of traffic.

But the 2-0 win made it all worthwhile and so it came to pass that on Sunday it was Frank (Baggies) Skinner, one of the two personalities chosen to make the draw, who decreed it would be Newcastle United and their fantastic supporters descending on the Hawthorns for what’s sure to be a fascinating tussle between the two favourites to make an instant return to the Greed League.

As to the game itself well being truthful I expected Huddersfield to be a much harder nut to crack than they did. Yes they had spells when they enjoyed plenty of possession, created some possible scoring chances, and had their fans believing that Albion wouldn’t be the first team to inflict an initial home defeat in a season, that they hopefully, will see them gain promotion.

Yes it took late goals from my Man of the Match Graham Dorrans, aided by substitute Chris Wood, who clinched the game with just 10 minutes remaining to seal the game but I always felt it was a game that overall clearly demonstrated the difference in quality between the teams.

In the early stages the bone hard pitch meant players couldn’t be certain if they could retain their footing but eventually, despite their home advantage, it was the Town who began to look susceptible as the Baggies threatened with a series of crisp accurate passing moves.

Despite any Town pressure a returning Scott Carson wasn’t seriously threatened as together with the defence they repelled anything thrown at them and to compound matters, from the Town fans point of view, goals from our current star, Graham Dorrans, and late substitute Chris Wood ensured the name of West Bromwich Albion would be among the other clubs wondering who their next opponents would be.

Certainly it wasn’t a great game in the accepted sense of the word, but it was a display good enough to leave behind the thought of just how miserable the journey home would have felt if we’d been dumped out of the Cup at the first hurdle!

Prior to the game both Di Matteo and Eddie Newton stressed the importance of the FA Cup, stressing it would be taken seriously by both coaches and players. Comments like these left the Albion travelling faithful feeling the game wasn’t as good as lost before setting out.

Okay we probably, no almost certainly, won’t win the oldest cup competition in the world. But as long as they give of their best, Baggies supporters will appreciate their efforts as the team take the next step on what at face value would appear to be a virtually impossible task.

Ironically our fourth round opponents turn out to be none other than odds-on favourites for promotion, Newcastle United (if, as expected, the Geordies see off Plymouth in their 3rd round replay) and THAT certainly wouldn’t be anything resembling the name and number of possible opponents for West Bromwich Albion waiting to see who will be our fifth round opponents. If you see what I mean!

But if as likely it IS the Baggies entertaining Newcastle this could (?) see a repeat of the opening game of the season when the teams shared the points, and just a few days after the vital return game at St James’ Park. Should the cup game need a replay Baggies fans would have to make an unwanted, expensive return trip to Geordie Land for the second time in a very short space of time.

But before then it’s the VERY important Hawthorns return game with Nottingham Forest – bought forward to Friday at the request of they who determine what day and date any game is eventually played, the Sky television moguls. A Baggies victory would be a massive boost to De Matteo, his team, and the fans that crave for an instant return to the big time.

A widening points gap between the teams, with Albion still having a game in hand, would be most acceptable. A draw, meaning we were still in second place, acceptable. But defeat? Let’s not even contemplate Robbie Earnshaw demonstrating his unique ‘firing of a machine gun’ action, should he find the net as he did in his time at the Hawthorns.

So, weather permitting, it’s Forest and almost inevitably, their sold out allocation of tickets fans who’ll be hoping to cause an upset and leapfrog over the Baggies into second place. Should this happen, and bearing in mind of our four defeats to date, three of them have come at the Hawthorns, then our present automatic promotion spot would definitely be under pressure. That must not happen so, as always,

“Come on you Baggies”

Read Dave Woodhall's take on The Magic of the Cup here

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