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Terry’s Baggies Blog

"WE ARE NOT TOP OF THE LEAGUE"

11-02-2008

It’s 61 years since Albion won at Barnsley, But Terry Wills reckons that on this kind of form Albion will have the chance to try again at Oakwell next season. And not in the Premiership either.

This season whatever the result, whatever the performance, whatever the merits, or otherwise, there has always been an opportunity for Baggies supporters to agree or disagree on various aspects of the teams overall performance.

Inevitably discussions will be divided but as the 3,971 (whatever happened to the missing 29!) bitterly disappointed fans crept away from a town that once housed a thriving coal industry and is planning to erect a statue of the world famous cricket umpire Dickie Bird, you’d be hard pressed to find a single fan opposing the view that this was a truly dreadful performance.

Team news… .Injured Robert Koren replaced by Filipe Teixeira, Zoltan Gera on the bench and Chris Brunt making his first start in four matches. A team that should have been good enough to at least pick up a point that meant whatever the Watford result we’d still be top of the pile.

So why did they slip to a 2-1, defeat - who was responsible, and what went wrong?

There’s a simple answer to the last question.... EVERYTHING.

Conceding an early goal has become an infuriating trait. It happens so frequently it almost comes as a surprise if we don’t gift the opposition an encouraging start. Amazingly this time we managed to buck the trend but it wasn’t for the want of trying!

Inside the first minute a shot rattled the inside of Dean Kiely post. Defenders and midfielders alike vied with each other to see who could make the most inaccurate clearance, or pass to an opponent, and up front Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar were left bemoaning the usual plentiful supply of scoring opportunities.

The ineptitude/casualness, call it what you will, led to Barnsley’s opener. Last defender Bostjan Cesar committed the cardinal sin - receiving a back pass from Paul Robinson. he dwelt on the ball, was robbed by Daniel Nardiello, who was given an unopposed run on goal and gratefully opened the scoring.

Considering the flow of the game, that left the Baggies with a small mountain to climb if they were to get back into the game.

In added on time, that small mountain had turned into Everest. A needless foul by Paul Robinson on a player who was going nowhere led to more bouts of indecision among Albion’s ‘passing strangers’ and Jon Macken gratefully took advantage.

2-0 and based on the first 45 minutes it was already game over.

Changes had to be made. A woefully out of form Cesar replaced by Leon Barnett, while Craig Beattie came on for Roman Bednar who’d picked up an injury

A better start to the second half, but then anything had to be an improvement, and this, coupled with the passionate backing of the sun drenched horde of Baggies fans, managed to raise simmering hopes they could still give themselves a toe hold in the game - especially when in the 58th minute James Morrison swapped passes with Kevin Phillips to reduce the deficit.

To his credit Leon Barnett added more stability to a defence that still too often allowed Barnsley to carve their way ever closer to Dean Kiely – who, sad to report, once again failed to inspire confidence among his colleagues and the fans.

A last throw of the dice by Tony Mowbray, Zoltan Gera for Chris Brunt, saw some improvement, and as to be expected he beavered away looking to create any sort of scoring openings.

It was to no avail. OK, Albion upped their game but in honesty they never really looked capable of snatching an equaliser.

Final whistle and realising just how badly they’d played the players trooped away, heads down, aided by a chorus of resounding boos from fans who felt they’d been badly let down.

Tony Mowbray’s post match comments summed it up succinctly…”There were lots of below par performances and we got what we deserved” .

No arguments there Tony from me, and surely from everyone who took advantage of the free annual away coach trip. It’s a good job it was free as the thought of having to pay to watch such a display would have left more than a few mutterings of discontent.

A particular quirk of mine! When visiting away grounds games I often memorise the names of buildings, roads and street in the area, to see if they could possibly forecast just how a particular match may go!

Absolutely stupid of course (!) but would you believe that a few hundred yards from Oakwell there’s a road that aptly summed up the Baggies display. In all its ‘prophetic’ glory it spelt out…’Shambles Road’!

So, displaced as League leaders - Watford, Bristol City, Stoke and Charlton closing the gap with impressive victories. It's imperative Albion get back to winning ways starting on Tuesday with the visit of Bryan Robson’s faltering Sheffield United.

Being recognised as the best footballing team in the Championship will count for nowt if we fail to gain promotion and are forced to make another Championship journey next season to Oakwell as opposed to Old Trafford.

Oh yes I almost forgot! There’s another game next Saturday that will see a minimum of 6,000 Baggies fans making the journey to Coventry for a 5th Round FA Cup match.

Will we win? Does it matter? What’s more important?

While every Albion supporter wants to see them win every game, given the choice of a progressing in the Cup and possibly hampering much needed League points I know from chatting to supporters a win against Sheffield United is considered very much the preferred option.

“Come on you Baggies”

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