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Terry’s Baggies Blog

IF ONLY.....

03-12-2007

Albion couldn’t quite climb the summit of the Championship on Saturday, but they’ll take comfort from another home defeat for the leaders Watford. Terry Wills sums up a mixed weekend for the Baggies.

“If only”…two words every football fan has probably expressed after a game which if they’d won, as in Albion’s case, would have left them (as the Carpenters trilled ) ‘On top of the World looking down on Creation!

Well if the Baggies had followed their very impressive victory at Plymouth with a repeat at the Mausoleum that goes by the name of Selhurst Park they wouldn’t been looking down on creation, but almost as satisfying, looking down on the rest of the promotion chasing clubs in the Championship!

First the visit to Plymouth. A game that for reasons of expense and travelling time, I decided would have to be ‘followed’ courtesy of ‘steam’, sorry DAB Digital Radio.

Team news saw Tony Mowbray replacing the injured pairing of Kevin Phillips and ‘Tiny’ Miller, with a lone striking Roman Bednar and judging from the commentary and subsequent match reports the Baggies were in awesome form.

They opened up Argyle as neatly as an automatic electric can opener faced with a tin of Baked Beans. Filipe Teixeira in particular displaying skills way above Championship status. I’m of the opinion that if he stays at the Hawthorns for any length of time he could be become one of the Clubs all time great players.

Two first half goals from Bednar, not a bad start (!) gave a satisfying interval lead and from all accounts it could and should have been more.

Still in cruise control for most of the second half, nerves only began to fray when Argyle, increasingly pushing forward, scored with ten minutes remaining, leaving the travelling 1,000 plus Baggies fans, and yours truly back home, screaming for the final whistle in a state of high dudgeon!

But justice was done. The points were in the bag and three days later it was a confident set of players and supporters heading for a reunion with the most unpopular manager in the game, a certain Neil Warnock, he of the infamous Bramall Lane fiasco which NO Albion fan will EVER forgive or forget.

Not surprisingly an unchanged team, looking very smart in the rarely seen white shirts, took the field and for the first 15 minutes it appeared to be ‘business as usual’.

Stroking and coaxing the ball in all directions it seemed ‘Mr’ Warnock, celebrating his 59 th Birthday, wouldn’t be receiving any presents from Tony Mowbray’s rampaging Baggies outfit.

The pressure had to reap dividends and it came as no surprise when, from a corner courtesy of Jonathan Greening, defender Mark Hudson turned the ball into his own net.

We were on the way to a possible top of the league spot providing Watford couldn’t overcome Bristol City later in the day.

More ‘Magical’ footwork courtesy of the little maestro ‘Tex’. The second goal couldn’t be far away and a few minutes later we were on our feet celebrating when Roman Bednar sidestepped a defender, picked his spot, but then hit the bar. IF ONLY!

The irrepressible Teixeira then blotted his copybook, skying a hurried shot way over. But no worries it can’t be long before we see the game’s second goal. Can it?

Er, no, but sadly it came from Palace in the 21st minute via Clinton Morrison who was allowed so much space in which to operate I was convinced he’d been masked by an ‘Invisible Cloak’.

What other reason COULD there be for a posse of Albion defenders failing to spot him?

Level at the break, on came Craig Beattie to replace Chris Brunt but in truth it was the Palace who had the better of the exchanges, harrying and worrying (in true Neil Warnock style) a tiring Baggies side.

There were no further goals and although hopes were raised in the closing minutes when we could have poached a winner, in truth a draw was fair result.

On the journey home when waiting to hear of what would surely be a Watford home win against Bristol City I mused “What if we’d won and the Hornets lost! We’d be top of the league wouldn’t we?”

Came the news. They had lost and we could have been Championship leaders IF ONLY we had won!

Palace 606 fans to Alan Green’s phone in made interesting listening…”I reckon it was a bonus point” said the first followed by another commenting “West Brom are the best team in the Championship, delighted with a draw”.

Then back home to read that Neil Warnock had punched the air in sheer delight at taking a point off West Brom

So now a single point behind Watford. At home to Coventry City on Tuesday and with both Wolves and Watford facing potentially tricky away games at Barnsley and Colchester, we COULD find ourselves mirroring the Carpenters chart topping hit ‘On top of the world looking down…’ (not on creation) but on the other 23 teams in the ‘Fizzy Pop’ League and having a great chance of paying a visit to the Emirates, Old Trafford and Anfield next season.

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