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Terry’s Baggies Blog

S&M AT THE HAWTHORNS

31-03-2008

Ninety minutes of torture followed by four minutes of ecstatsy. Blimey, The Hawthorns is becoming X-rated these days reckons Terry Wills.

Masochism….Described in the Penguin English Dictionary thus.…”Apparent enjoyment of hardships. .Pleasure from suffering physical pain and humiliation”

And if anyone can possibly offer a more succinct description of what being an Albion supporter is all about then I and thousands of other fans would love to hear it!

Down many decades I’ve watched the Baggies I’ve seen countless games that cover a multitude of descriptions. .‘Great’-disappointing-brilliant-awful, and some UGH!

So it was as the worst team in the Championship turned up at the Hawthorns. Colchester United. Doomed to relegation. Had lost seven of their last eight games and were obviously lacking in confidence. Their supporters possibly filling two coaches, waiting to see just what further humiliation lay in store when they trotted onto the field.

Their question –“How many will we concede today!?

Well at the end of 94 minutes it they’d lost the game 4-3. It could have been nearer double figures, IF only the Baggies hadn’t scorned enough chances to have won two or three games.

But how on earth had they managed to score three? Take 2-0 and 3-2 leads and THEN lose the game by conceding two goals in added on time?

But to start at the beginning. A starting place return for Chris Brunt. A welcome back to the Hawthorns for Neil Clement joined on the substitutes bench by fit again James Morrison yet surprisingly (for fans if not Tony Mowbray!) NO substitute goalkeeper!

Come on you Baggies” Lets see the goals mount up!

Within 20 seconds a glorious flowing move finished at the feet of Chris Brunt a few yards out. It had to be 1-0. It wasn’t. His effort landing among the noisy ‘drum banging’ Smethwick end fans.

No matter. Goals had to come-wave after wave of attacks- The Colchester keeper being the busiest man on the field. He parried shots, saw them land at the feet of defenders, was constantly in action BUT for all that it seemed only a matter of time before Referee Graham Laws was pointing to the centre spot to confirm the opening goal had been scored.

It wasn’t. Not once but twice as YET-YET again somehow the Baggies moribund watching defenders allied by Dean Kiely (held down by the weight of his deep sea divers boots?) allowed the ball bounce from a, yes you’ve guessed it, free kick to be duly despatched by Chris Coyne.

One down soon became two and the crowds discontent rapidly turned into anger as a woeful attempted punch out from Dean Kiely fell to Medy Elito who promptly lashed it home (ust how much longer WILL it be before Michal Danek gets the nod from Tony Mowbray to show he’s worthy of being given a chance?)

Again the Baggies took control. Kevin Phillips unleashed a tremendous drive, which after hitting a post, rebounded off the back of the keeper for a corner More curses from supporters and looks of frustration on the faces of the players.

At last the probing between Zoltan Gera and Carl Hoefkens paid dividends. ‘Super Kevin’ sweeping the ball home to reduce the arrears followed by Chris Brunt scoring his goal at the Hawthorns with a long range strike.

2-2 and massive relief all round NOW surely we had to go on and win the game?

Unceasing pressure and United must have been grateful to hear the half time whistle which led to Neil Clement replacing Bostjan Cesar for the start of the second period.

Renewed pressure. Clement, Gera and Bednar all missing chances. A penalty appeal denied. Could the Colchester defence possibly hold out for an unlikely point?

71 minutes and desperate for three points ‘Tiny’ Miller replaced Carl Hoefkens. But, to be blint, he posed far less of a threat than the unlucky Albion full back.

Last substitution. James Morrison for Robert Koren

Fourteen minutes remaining and those looks of astonishment and despair resurfaced as AGAIN unbelievably Colchester took the lead as the ‘Invisible Men’ masquerading under the title of West Bromwich Albion defenders failed to deal with a left wing corner.

3-2 down and hundreds of fans decided they’d suffered enough of their self inflicted masochistic tendencies.

‘God’ how can we lost at home to a team way out of their depth in the ‘Fizzy Pop’ League’…

90 minutes and with the crowd becoming even more frantic than normal, amazingly James Morrison managed score a last gasp equaliser.

Wonder what those early leaving disgusted Baggies fans though of that when they heard the roars of disbelief from those who’d preferred to suffer the lingering agony by remaining ‘glued’ to their seats and seen their ‘devotion’ rewarded by a late point saver?

And WHAT must have been the reaction when in added on time Roman Bednar glanced home a header that led to every Baggies fan hugging each other in disbelief reminiscent of that never to be forgotten ‘Great Escape’ match against Portsmouth.

(OK a ‘slight’ egateration but I guess any ‘Stirrer’ Albion fan readers will know what I mean!)

It had been a bizarre, almost ‘embarrassing’ performance. Down and out Albion had somehow or other to win a crazy game by effort and application led by Paul Robinson. Head swathed in bandages he battled away, winning 40/60 challenges in addition to rampaging forward at every opportunity.

Post match Tony Mowbray admitted while he was grateful for the win he was FUMING at the lack of quality from his defenders. No argument there because whoever the opposition and whichever pair of central defenders he selects they simply CANNOT deal with set pieces.

Free Kick or corner it makes no difference. They’re rarely win the first ball and this coupled with the ‘line bound’ immobility of Dean Kiely leaves them seemingly an ‘easy touch’ for the grateful opposition.

There were plus points. Crisp interplay between Gera and Hoefkens. Greening and Koren’s tireless running plus the comforting realisation that even when chances are created and squandered there’s still sufficient belief that Messrs Phillips and Bednar can still ‘poach’ goals to save or even win a game.

That’s THE most infuriating aspect for Baggies fans They do have quality but all to often let themselves down .Now with games running out and possible Cup and Promotion honours moving ever closer, these weaknesses could, unless ‘ironed out’, prove fatal.

So now three points off an automatic promotion spot, and four points away from being Championship leaders with still two games in hand, it’s rapidly approaching crunch time. But points in the bag are worth more than games in hand and with the first of these coming at the ‘unwelcoming’ home of Cardiff City on Tuesday this could be a defining moment of the season.

Oh yes! There’s also a ‘little ‘ matter of an FA Cup Semi–final at Wembley next Saturday as Premiership Portsmouth face the Baggies.

Not many pundits will fancy our chances but if we can get a result at Ninian Park it’ll breed confidence that a ‘possible’ upset could be on the cards from a game that 99% of the pundits will be forecast seeing Pompey competing in their first Final since 1939.

But first it’s that VITAL game at Ninian Park so until then.

“Come on you Baggies”

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