The Stirrer

news that matters, campaigns that count

for Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond

Terry's Baggies Blog

SAINTS....AND SINNERS

12-10-2007

The international break gives Terry Wills time to reflect on Albion's recent performances - a trip to the Saints of Southampton and the sinners of Stoke City.

Two games of contrasting styles Six points up for grabs and, following the comprehensive demolition of Queens Park Rangers, it's fair to say supporters were in an optimistic mood of making further progress until the realisation that the 'sinners' in this equation, Stoke City, had heeded the words of their manager Tony Pulis.

"Remember what I've told you. Be as cynical as needed-waste as much time as the referee will allow - feign injury-block, shove, push, frustrate. It's all in the game and don't worry about the crowd's reaction. Cynicism rules OK"

And never did a team more follow their 'Gaffers' instructions.

Minus Kevin Phillips, replaced by Craig Beattie, it was left to Ishmael Miller to pose the greatest threat to the Potters who after taking the lead via a disputed (was it offside?) goal were more than happy to sit back, incur the wrath of incensed frustrated fans, and take advantage of a series of weak refereeing decisions.

Thankfully Leon Barnett managed to snatch an equaliser and then with just two minutes remaining, 'Tiny' Miller latched on to a through ball with only the keeper to beat, supporters were on the feet ready to acclaim a well deserved winning goal to finally bury the Stoke hoodoo.

But the shot was blocked along with the Baggies hopes of smashing that despairing record against 'Cynical City'. Now standing as one win in 22 games!

But at least they'd never stopped playing the style of football the fans have taken to their hearts as opposed to that adopted by Tony Pullis which while gaining points leaves them THE team every Baggies fans love to 'hate'.

So on to the Southampton 'Saints' when two 'happenings' before we made the journey left me feeling the odds were inevitably' stacked in the home teams favour.

First a few days earlier Southampton had been smashed 5-1 away at Preston and any manager suffering a defeat of that magnitude makes it VERY clear to his troops that he won't be satisfied with anything less than a 100% improvement whoever the opposition.

Secondly Tony Mowbray had been presented with the 'Championship Manager of the Month' award for September. In other words a poisoned chalice to be swallowed, digested and followed, by the unpalatable sight of seeing his team 'gulping' for an antidote.

With Kevin Phillips still struggling for fitness Mowbray opted for a 4-5-1 or was it 4-1-4-1 formation (?) '(starting with a midfield of Greening, Teixeira, Koren, Brunt, and Gera) .leaving Miller as the lone target man.

From the start Southampton took the initiative. They caused problems with raids down both flanks, were quicker to the ball and it came as no great surprise when Stern John (another player with the annoying habit of scoring against the Baggies) opened the scoring.

2-0 down when a pile-driver from Skacel left Dean Kiely clutching at thin air and although Albion were having a fair share of the game it wasn't until Robert Koren scored the first of his two goals that Albion looked capable of salvaging something from the game.

At the break Filipe Teixeira was replaced by Sherjil MacDonald but there was still no real let up for a Baggies defence that frequently looked vulnerable. In truth although the whole team while still playing attractive football, they gave the impression that the 'punishing' game against 'Cynical City' had left them jaded.

Hopes resurrected....Robert Koren raising spirits with an equaliser. Could they go on snatch an unlikely winner?

Hopes dashed....Noisy celebrations cut short just two minutes later when Stern John capitalised on a defensive error to notch what turned out to be the winning goal.

And guess what this came about from yet ANOTHER set piece situation.

And how many times have Albion conceded in this manner?

Beattie and Morrison came on for Gera and Brunt but it was to no avail.

No doubt this was an entertaining game for neutral supporters and there could have been further goals for both sides. But on the day it Southampton ran out deserving winners. .They looked fitter-never stopped chasing- and caused Dean Kiely and his defenders no end of problems.

The International break means the next three matches, away at Colchester, followed by Blackpool and Norwich at home, gives Tony Mowbray the opportunity to redress a return of just a single point from matches against the 'Saints and Sinners'.

So a silent journey home for the convoy of Supporters coaches, but as I 'mused' over the defeat, there was one result that made the day well worthwhile!

ENGLAND 12-AUSTRALIA 10.

'Come on you England Baggies.

Leave a comment on the local teams 07/08 thread in the Sports Section of our Message Board.

Leave a comment or raise new issues on The Stirrer message board.

The Stirrer home

©2007 The Stirrer