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Terry’s Baggies Blog

“WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE (AGAIN!)”

14-01-2008

Baggies

Only Albion’s inconsistent away form has prevented them becoming runaway leaders of the Championship, but a 3-1 triumph in Saturday’s televised game at Hull sees the Baggies move two points clear. Terry Wills watches from the (dis)comfort of his sofa.

As I said last week watching football these days is a very expensive form of entertainment, so with the Baggies hitting the road for a third successive away game, destination Hull City, and the game deemed worthy of being beamed to the nation, I somewhat reluctantly took the decision to watch the ‘battle’ from the comfort of home with only cat Heidi for company.

But even before the ludicrous 5-20 kick off tension was being ratcheted up, thanks to listening to local radio, while simultaneously/anxiously watching other scores via various television networks.

How were Watford, Bristol City and Stoke doing? Would they all win, meaning the Baggies needed three points to retain their position of league leaders or would they do us the unlikely favour by dropping points?

Amazingly they did, so draped in scarf and hat (there in spirit if not in body) it felt very strange watching on the box as Tony Mowbray’s team selection was announced. ‘Tiny’ Miller and Kevin Phillips up front, Pedro (still love that name) Pele partnered by Leon Barnett at the heart of the defence plus a creative midfield from the usual suspects.

A short interview with Hull Manager Phil Brown who when questioned about his teams recent impressive run remarked “Yes but this is the acid test”!

He wasn’t kidding and despite his passionate frenzied reaction from pitchside, the next 94 minutes were sheer torture not only for him but EVERY Albion fan whether they’d travelled to Humberside or were perched on their seats in front of a telly.

What a start. A great ball from Chris Brunt and Kevin Phillips slotted the opening goal in his usual calm assured manner. ‘Boing Boing’ from the terraces, me joining in by punching the settee in sheer delight.

Instant response Dean Kiely parrying a shot from Dean Windass, followed by a sharp reflex save from a clever back heel flick, while at the other end Ishmael Miller dawdled far to long and allowed his shot to cleared.

‘A tasty game’ and in the 32nd minute more hysteria and thumping and stamping of feet as ‘Super Kev’ threaded through a killer-pass which James Morrison rolled so slowly, but agonisingly, home.

2-0. “Come on you Baggies” - not that Heidi knew what was happening although the cat must have been aware that her benefactor was displaying imminent signs of ‘madness’.

Hull certainly weren’t out of it and as the pace warmed up, ‘flying’ tackles became more common - the match commentators seemingly making great play of the fact that Paul Robinson COULD have received a Red card rather than the brandished yellow while seemingly forgetting a tackle on Chris Brunt that was equally culpable.

The ‘Tigers’, living up their name, constantly ‘bombed’ forward, mainly via the long ball approach, but despite the now accepted hairy scary moments from the Baggies back four Dean Kiely was thankfully equal to the pressure.

(Much to the chagrin of Hull’s veteran Dean Windass. Any decision in Albion’s favour instantly ‘saw’ an outburst of ‘four letter’ words that even those who couldn’t read lip read must have understood).

Second 45 minutes, and Hull leapt out of the traps determined to reduce the deficit as soon as possible. More scrambles in and around the Baggies goalmouth but thankfully they somehow managed to avoid finishing in the back of the net.

Zoltan Gera replaced Chris Brunt seemingly because of his defensive qualities but in the 71st minute a tremendous strike from Garcia left Dean Kiely clutching at thin air and the lead reduced to 2-1. Curses all round “Come on you Baggies - don’t let it slip now”.

More stamping of feet as Paul Robinson received a second yellow card (unjustly as the ‘Big Brother’ camera lenses confirmed) so it was a second early bath for a player who, by the very nature of his game, will forever be walking a disciplinary tightrope.

Could the ten men hang on to the 2-1 lead? On came Bostjan Cesar and Roman Bednar in place of Kevin Phillips and a very disappointing Ishmael Miller and it was time to ‘Circle the Wagons’ as City threw everything at a back peddling Albion who looked likely to concede an equaliser.

More shrieks of anguish made even worse as the fourth official held up his brightly illuminated board showing four minutes added on time.

“Keep em out”. “The Lords My Shepherd” “Come on you Baggies” “Boing Boing”, and that was just from me while Heidi looked on realising it was impossible to sleep through a chorus of “Blow the bloody whistle ref are you blind”?

A goal simply had to come. It did and ‘amazingly’ it was Roman Bednar who confounded everyone by notching a Baggies third with a solo effort in that agonising additional few minutes. “Boing Boing”!

At long last it was game over. A precious win strengthening the top of the table lead and from a tricky away game you can’t ask for any more.

Time for quiet reflection. Albion hadn’t played well, although posing a constant threat going forward. The midfield were somewhat below par despite Jonathan Greening seemingly covering (in that over-used expression) ‘every blade of grass’.

The defence while manfully clearing and blocking shots with ‘gay abandon’ were still prone to failing to pick up ‘knock downs’ in the penalty area, the difference this time being the form of Deano who made some vital, match winning saves.

So a win in a style not normally associated the Baggies - a scruffy untidy affair, but what the heck all that mattered was the three points.

Tuesday it’s the unwanted Cup replay against Charlton followed by a visit from in form Cardiff City (who have already won at the Hawthorns in a Carling Cup game)

Next week it’s back to a less stressful ‘live ‘ report. Yes it can be agonising, BUT not as stressful as screaming at a television set that simply can’t replicate the trauma of sitting or standing alongside screaming fellow ‘nutty’ Albion fans!

“Come on you Baggies”

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