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Terry’s Baggies Blog

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

10-12-2007

Surprisingly beaten at home by Coventry, before pulling off their shock win at Leicester. It’s been a curious few days for the Baggies reports Terry Wills.

A tale of two Cities! No not Charles Dickens’ London and Paris, but Tony Mowbray’s’ possible reflections on the East Midlands duo Coventry and Leicester!. And thanks to a totally unexpected away win the Baggies are still well in the hunt for promotion.

But SHOULD we have been surprised? Albion’s capacity to snatch defeats from the jaws of victory, or to reverse the process, is so well documented no Albion fan should have left the Hawthorns on Tuesday or the Walkers Stadium on Saturday with a look of bewilderment on their face.

First the 4-2 home reverse against Coventry and not for the first time if points were awarded for inflicting self inflicted wounds West Bromwich Albion would be pushing hard to be crowned undisputed champions.

Ian Dowie must have thought the gods were smiling down on his team as the Baggies sloppy defensive frailties literally gifted his side two early goals.

Who to blame? Everybody. Keeper Dean Kiely inspired little or no confidence with his laughable attempts to clear the ball; Leon Barnett, whose capacity to infuriate both players and fans alike with nonsensical passes to the opposition; Carl Hoefkens, surely his worst display of the season; while a far from fit Bostjan Cesar found himself struggling before eventually being substituted.

To their credit and no doubt from a few well chosen words from Tony Mowbray (!) they clawed their way back into the game courtesy of two goals from Roman Bednar and with the crowd at last awakening from what appeared to be an unbelieving shocked slumber looked more than capable of eventually winning the game.

Enter Paul Robinson and another, so often seen in the past, rush of blood to affect his thinking capacity. A stupid yellow card for disputing a decision followed by mandatory second and the obligatory dreaded Red. It would be a case of “Come on the ten men”.

Coventry gratefully took full advantage. Another Keystone Cops mix up between Kiely and Barnett gifted a third and in the closing minutes Albion’s non existent defence managed to allow a City defender to run 50/60 yards without a hint of a challenge and from the resulting melee anyone of three players could have walked the ball into the net.

Curses all round as fans wandered away knowing that not only had we lost three points but in addition to the known missing players unavailable for selection for the trip to Leicester we could now add the names of suspended Cesar and Robinson.

So on to the Walkers Stadium, a venue so covered in advertisements it resembles a gigantic version of Lewis Hamilton’ racing leathers.

The weather was wet, grey, and windy. Most of the travelling faithful were anticipating the worst. Compounded by the news that in addition to the recognised absent personnel Kiely and Hoefkens had joined a dressing room seemingly filled with more walking wounded than Holby City’s A&E department’ after a typical Saturday night.

Tony Mowbray, left with limited options, gave a debut to Luke Steel in goal and in a remodelled back-four, Barnett was partnered by Pele (an unfortunate name for ANY player) with Shelton Martis and Jared Hodgkiss taking the full back positions.

On paper a recipe for disaster? No way! From the start Albion bossed the game, rarely looked in trouble and apart from one magnificent flying save Luke Steele was virtually redundant.

The opening goal followed a mouth watering cross from the ever improving Chris Brunt who if not handing it on a plate, certainly guided it Exocet-style style on to the head of a grateful Zoltan Gera to nod home.

He was swamped by a clutch of delighted colleagues off the pitch while up in the stand fans roared their delight not only at the goal but because it gave the opportunity to silence the pounding drum of the resident Leicester fan (bearing a distinct resemblance to Jabba the Hutt) whose efforts to inspire Leicester had the reverse effect.

It galvanised Baggies supporters to break into a melody of songs that wouldn’t have gone down at all well with the home fans!

One Gary Megson-there’s only one Gary Megson”-“You should have gone to the Rugby” –“You should have gone Christmas Shopping” plus those that although well known aren’t suitable for repeating outside the confines of a football ground!

Albion’s passing quality even with a ‘weakened’ team was still of a high standard leading BBC Radio Leicester’s match pundits commenting “You have to admit West Brom are a quality side”.

With a second goal ‘obviously’ sealing the win a series of corners and scrambles in the home goalmouth built up our hopes only to see yet ANOTHER disputed sloppy goal conceded.

A 75th minute long clearance. The ball was allowed to bounce, out came Luke Steele to be seemingly fouled by Iain Hume, the ball was bundled home and the scores were level.

Jabba’s drum went into overdrive. Baggies fans were stunned. What a miscarriage of justice. Surely we weren’t about to drop a point or possibly three to an outclassed Leicester side?

Richard Chaplow came on for Robert Koren .followed by the player many supporters feel hasn’t been worth the cash outlay, Craig Beattie replacing Roman Bednar, and what a response from the tall guy!

88th minute A ball down the left flank, he gathered the ball, rounded a defender and sent the fans into a state of delirium by curling a shot into the top corner of the net directly in front of Albion’s almost disbelieving ‘Barmy Army’.

Jabba was finally silenced as we finished off the Christmas ‘Sing Along’ with a shrieking frenzied rendition of “Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see the Baggies win away”.

So a happy ride home reflecting that players who’s ability had been questioned namely Luke Steel, Pele, Martis, and Beattie had more than played their part while Jared Hodgkiss proved he would rarely let an opportunity to play pass by.

So still second in the table and a home game against third placed Charlton next up.

Exciting times ahead BUT which Albion team will turn up? Watch this space.

“Boing Boing till next week”

Are the Baggies made of the right stuff for promotion?

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