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Terry’s Baggies Blog

THE RELEGATION CRUNCH

15-01-2009

Terry Wills

Defeat by the Villa was tempered by a suprisingly comfortable Cup win at Peterborough. Now Terry Wills is looking forward to a vital appointment with ‘Boro this weekend.

Never mind the credit crunch (!) it’s the relegation crunch that’s probably more worrying fans this week when the Baggies face a Middlesbrough team also desperately attempting to keep their Chairman ‘happy’ by avoiding relegation and staving off the unsavoury prospect of finding themselves playing Championship football next season.

A win and the teams will be level on points, although goal difference would still see the Baggies below them in the table, but that would be counterbalanced by the physiological realisation that the gap had been narrowed.

So where do we start seeing as it’s been a good news, bad news, week?

Lets get the bad news out of the way. The happenings at Villa Park when sadly, as I expected, Villa proved just too strong for an Albion side who nevertheless caused them problems and once again produced a standard of football that belied their perilous league status.

Indeed in the opening and closing stages, without knowing the vast difference in the relative league standings, a neutral must have thought it was the Baggies chasing a Premiership top four spot so much possession did they enjoy.

But yet again, as Ron Atkinson said “Possession without a final cutting edge counts for nothing” The story of our season so far!

In that opening spell Jay Simpson looked a positive threat. Quick, sharp, and taking up good positions. Encouraging signs until in their first serious incursion into Albion penalty area a needlessly conceded corner allowed, inevitably, Curtis Davies to steal in and head home Villa’s opener from close range.

That changed the ebb and flow of the game. Villa gained confidence while Albion’s visibly weakened. Crystallised when Scott Carson somehow allowed a tame shot from Gabriel Ablongahor to bounce off his arm before slowly rolling over the goal line into the net.

And if this caused consternation for the team THAT was matched by the disbelieving looks etched on the faces of the fans.

Second half and on came Roman Bednar for a disappointing Luke Moore and what a difference he made. A knock back header-in came James Morrison, and it was 2-1… “Come on you Baggies”

Villa, with flying wide men, Ashley Young and Agbonlahor always gave the impression that if either team was to score it would be Martin O’Neill celebrating but with Jonas Olsson battling manfully and the seemingly uncertain Scott Carson pulling off some tremendous saves the game was still in the balance.
Credit has to go the Baggies for carrying the fight to the Villa. Unusually they frequently mixed their usual passing game with balls over the top and as Big Ron said “Laursen and Davies know they’re in a game now”!

Final few minutes and time to go for broke. Constant attacks, two penalty appeals, and Carson sprinting forward in a vain attempt to help his colleagues grab a late equaliser from a last ditch corner kick.

All to no avail, Villa had the points and we were still rooted at the foot of the table. And how important does that make the result of Saturday’s game.

On to the good news (depending on whether you think the possibility of another FA Cup run will hamper the prospect of staying in the ‘Greed League’?) the impressive 2-0 replay win at Peterborough that for a second successive season reduced the image of the ‘Posh’ to the more appropriate role of ‘paupers’ on their own ground.

Gone was that stuttering ‘anonymous’ display at the Hawthorns. This time the Baggies stamped their authority on the game from the off.

With Filipe Teixeira surprisingly declared fit, he and fellow midfielders, dictated proceedings. The striking duo of Roman Bednar and on loan Jay Simpson caused problems and as soon as ‘Homer’ (!) crashed home a stunning 10th minute opening goal, followed by a 37th minute headed second from Paul Robinson the tie was effectively sealed.

(I have to admit this was one of the rare occasions I wasn’t actually at the game but courtesy of the local radio commentary, and the ‘unbiased’ opinions of Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown ’ I had a fair idea as to what was happening on the pitch while I was visibly using my imagination back home in Brum!)

Naturally Peterborough had a ‘few’ promising moments but the trio of Craig Mackail Smith, Aaron McLean, and George Boyd, who caused numerous problems at the Hawthorns, this time around found a Baggies defence in a far more determined and very unforgiving mood.

They made a few desperate attempts to get back into the tie but as time was beginning to run out Albion’s superior passing ability, mixed with a more direct approach, should have led to more goals.

But who’s complaining! A 2-0 away win not only ensured a 4th Round home tie against Burnley but more importantly raised expectations that when leaving the Hawthorns on Saturday the looks on Baggies fans faces will be wreathed in smiles rather than etched in disappointment!

So, to put it mildly, it appears this could be a VERY interesting few days at the Hawthorns. Rumours, speculation, and reports that new players ARE about to sign, while some players MAY want away (?) and Tony Mowbray’s decision as to who will replace Roman Bednar for the Middlesbrough clash due to him missing the game simply because he insists on disputing every decision that goes against him. “Calm down Roman, Calm down”.

Baggies fans would much prefer seeing you on the pitch rather sitting pitch side.

Finally to the Stirrer contributors and readers who enjoyed the late New Year get together, courtesy of Adrian, it was nice to meet up and say “Hello” even though the interior of the ‘Spotted Dog’ somewhat resembled a ‘Sardine Packers Annual Outing’!

And thanks to the sympathetic Villa fans that came over to wish the Baggies the best of luck, hoped we’d stay up, and conceded Albion had played their part in an entertaining game.

Oh yes. To Villa Blogger Dave Woodhall. Sorry to hear you missed the opening 15 minutes when Albion were on top (!) due to having to fork out a £180 fine after parking in a spot you’ve utilised for years. Makes me glad I’m not a car owner!

"Come on you Baggies"

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