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Terry’s Baggies Blog

THE GREAT ESCAPE – PART TWO

24-12-2008

Arsenal's Jay Simpson is coming to The Hawthorns on loan - another Christmas present for Baggies fans still celebrating a long overdue success against Manchester City. Now Terry Wills is eyeing another Great Escape.

WOW! The scenes at the final whistle spoke volumes did they not?

Jubilant players punching the air, although Abdoulaye Meite’s attempt at a ‘Boing Boing’ definitely needs more practice, (!) Tony Mowbray was on the pitch, and to show the fans the belief was still there, we witnessed a team ‘huddle’.

All because the Baggies had ended the lengthening list of “no win” games that had plunged the team to the foot of the table and some of the more ‘neurotic’ fans contemplating adding their names to the clinic in Switzerland that legally assist suicide! (OK, that’s probably a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean!)

The well earned, deserved win means that providing Albion can gain another three points from a Tottenham team (who themselves aren’t in the best of form) it would significantly increase the prospects of the Baggies making a unlikely repeat of that unforgettable ‘Great Escape’.

Before that of course there just happens to be a Boxing Day trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea - the team who totally outclassed Albion at the Hawthorns in November and based on that display justified the bookmakers decision to make them favourites to win the Premiership come May 24th 2009.

In truth despite the ‘Pensioners’ finally and inevitably losing their four- year unbeaten home run and dropping points courtesy of four draws, IF Albion could somehow manage to salvage a point, THAT would be a totally unexpected morale boost and a wonderful Christmas present for everyone who sees little or no hope of reversing that earlier three goal drubbing…UNLESS?

Unless, being the unlikely prospect of the defence restricting a potent Chelsea team who have scored 15 goals at home, against a Baggies side who have conceded 17 away from the Hawthorns and haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in the last eleven games. Hardly encouraging signs for a shock result and an ‘excuse’ (if they needed one) for Baggies fans to down a few extra Christmas pints in celebration!

But those games will take care of themselves so reverting back to the nail biting last minute, last gasp, winner game against Manchester City let’s look at the positives (for once) of the performance.

Admitting that the ‘Blue Moon’ boys looked a poor side the fact is that you can only play and beat whoever the opposition manager selects in his line up and as those on pitch celebrations showed, the Baggies could feel justice had been done as Roman Bednar notched the winner whether it came from the side or the back of his head!

Ok at times the annoying tendency to give the ball away, lose possession, and frequently, as now accepted, overpass, meant an attacking position often finished back in Albion’s own-half and led to groans of frustration. But how that changed at the final whistle.

For once Tony Mowbray decided on a 4-4-2 formation, Roman Bednar linking up with Luke Moore, and to their joint credit they arguably had their best games of the season.

Bednar displayed an excellent first touch, giving 100% effort and commitment, while at long last the ex Aston Villa player managed to win over the doubting Baggies fans with a performance that belied his previous non–show displays.

He took his first ever Premiership Albion goal in style. A lovely through ball found him in space, a burst of speed took him clear, and a cool finish had everyone on their feet to celebrate a sight many thought they’d never be privileged to see.

The defence looked solid with the Messrs Meite and Olsson dominating the majority of the aerial battles and Gianni Zuiverloon reverting back to the sort of form he displayed in his first games in an Albion shirt.

Pick of the midfield for me was Robert Koren, while Graham Dorrans coming on to make his debut as a substitute looked comfortable and certainly showed that his hopes of forcing his way into Tony Mowbray’s squad on a regular basis were worthy of consideration.

The one frustrating and truly AGONISING aspect of this entertaining game was the manner of City’s freak equaliser that led, as has been all to prevalent this season, frustrated supporters leaving early at the ominous thought they’d seen another match ‘tossed’ away at the death.

All this after the crowd had given a fantastic reception to the one and only Geoff (feed the Horse) Horsfield as he made a half time appearance to thank the supporters for their hundreds of ‘Get Well’ messages received when he’d been diagnosed as suffering from testicular cancer.

Thankfully he’s been given the all clear and I know I wasn’t alone in wishing Geoff were still a Baggies player bearing in mind that when the chips are down he would always be the last player, apart from Paul Robinson, who’d react angrily if his corner man threw in the towel.

So three, yes THREE points in the locker, and while the Baggies are still in deep trouble and naturally odds on favourites for the drop, the prospect of repeating a second great escape must be emerging in the Manger’s and players’ minds.

They may as yet not seriously started to dig the underground ‘tunnel’ leading to Premiership safety but just perhaps they’re considering sending a raiding party to one of the Hawthorns Banqueting Suites.

Their mission? To snaffle, as many items of cutlery needed that will allow Major Mowbray, second in command Greening, and ‘bullish’ Sergeant Robinson to huddle and discuss just when the digging can start in the hope that Albion can achieve a second ‘Mission Impossible’!

To fans of all our local clubs, ESPECIALLY the Baggies, here’s wishing you and your team all the best for the festive period. Like me you’ll be hoping ‘Santa’ brings you the success you wish for, or in Albion’s case, crave for!

There HAS to be final mention for the ‘Stirrer’ himself. Thanks Adrian for affording me the opportunity to comment on all things Albion, whether readers agree or not is another matter, and here’s hoping, our prayers will be answered with a positive rather than negative outcome?

"Happy Christmas everyone"

"Come on you Baggies"

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