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Terry's Baggies Blog

MOORE IS LESS

17-03-2008

Albion’s weekend was "an absolute disaster" according to our Baggies blogger Terry Wills. His team lost 4-1 at home, following the sending off of Villa loanee Luke Moore. With the dressing room resembling an A & E ward, surely things can’t get any worse? Don’t bet against it he warns.

Watch any game and whatever the result you can invariably pick up a defining moment. One that sets in motion a train of events that’ll leave supporters claiming, “If only THAT hadn’t happened we’d have won the game”.

THAT moment occurred in the 35th minute. But before that, when Tony Mowbray’s starting line up was announced to do battle with a struggling Leicester City there were more than a few puzzled looks on the faces of the Hawthorns faithful.

Shelton Martis for Carl Hoefkens/Jared Hodgkiss not unexpected. Do-Heon Kim starting for the first time, again logical bearing in mind injures to Chris Brunt and James Morrison, but the choice of Luke Moore to partner Roman Bednar in a 4-4-2 formation (!) A major surprise.

Kevin Phillips and Ishmael Miller on the bench? Why prefer the so far very disappointing Moore despite his failure to show any sort of form to warrant a reported eventual £3.5 million transfer fee?

A raucous atmosphere, aided by a large travelling contingent enjoyed a bright start. Promising midfield moves finding gaps in the City defence and on 22 minutes Robert Koren opening the scoring with a long-range deflected effort.

We were on our way to a badly needed three points. At least that was the thinking despite Leicester playing a brand of football not normally associated with a team struggling to avoid plunging through the relegation trap door.

Then THAT defining moment that turned the game on it’s head. Luke Moore, not particularly prominent up to 35th minute, taking centre stage for all the wrong reasons.

A stupid reckless touchline challenge, on a player going nowhere, saw referee Mr Deadman, sprint over as if running for a Gold Medal in the 100 metres Olympic Final, at the same time flourishing the inevitable red card.

Jeers not only for the official but also for Luke Moore. (When was the last time Albion had paid out good money to bring a player from Villa Park to the Hawthorns?)

So realising it would be ten men against eleven for the remaining 55 minutes, I doubt if I was the only Baggies fan harbouring serious doubts that the game would rapidly take a massive 100% turnaround.

Oh to have been proved wrong. The vulnerability to any sort of aerial threat surfaced yet again. A tremendous world class save from Dean Kiely being nullified when Gareth McCauley outjumped a clutch of flat footed defenders to head home the equaliser from a left sided cross (Now how many times is that? Answers on an email please!)

Level at the break it became clear Leicester were beginning to take advantage of having the extra man especially as Albion’s frustration at some of the officials decision was clear for all to see.

More petulance from both sides, Paul Robinson treading a disciplinary tightrope, while the ever petulant and probably most disliked ex Villa player of all time ( for Baggies fans) Lee Hendrie certainly wasn’t in the mood to relinquish his cherished title.

59 minutes. Jonathan Greening fouls inside the penalty area. Mr Deadman, by name and nature, points to the spot and Steven Howard, who scored the winner for Derby against Albion at Wembley in the Play Off final last season did the necessary.

Odds now VERY heavily stacked against them, Albion actually controlled the game for a 10-15 minute spell. Plenty of possession, lots of pressure but sadly the City keeper was rarely tested. In fact I had the inbuilt pessimistic feeling they’d wait to pick us off, capitalise on errors and brag “Game over”.

Time for substitutions. Pele for ‘Kim’, and Sherjill MacDonald for Zoltan Gera. More puzzled looks from fans. Why not the powerful physical strength of ‘Tiny’ Miller or the subtle, always liable to score, threat of Kevin Phillips?

Seven minutes later request granted. ‘Super’ Kevin on for Roman Bednar, but while he quickly posed problems the game was effectively sealed in the last 10 minutes.

First Howard scored his second, and Leicester’s third, and to round off a thoroughly miserable afternoon for disenchanted Baggies fans (witness the mass exodus as hundreds headed for the exits) the Foxes striker calmly completeled his hat-trick. Followed by Leon Barnett hobbling off to add his name to a worryingly long injury list.

So two home games from which we expected a minimum of six points finished with a solitary digit. Yet amazingly, with games in hand and the failure of those around us pushing for automatic promotion, the Baggies could still finish in a top two position.

But at present that appears highly unlikely. Those earlier ‘snap crackle and pop’ displays that frightened opponents now resemble a flat bottle of Cola.

Certainly they can still do it but no squad, however strong on paper, can afford to have five of their top players missing for any length of time.

Overall verdict? Greening, Koren, and Gera ran their hearts out. ‘Kim’ showed neat touches and vision but against an uncompromising City team he needed to show more aggression.

Up front Roman Bednar ploughed a lone furrow following Luke Moore’s needless dismissal and in relation to that it’s fair to say that as an ex Aston Villa player he isn’t exactly been the flavour of the month among Baggies fans.

Next up a second visit to Charlton, following our 1-1 draw in the FA Cup. A win while not being out of the question, seems unlikely, but a similar result this time around would probably leave Baggies supporters feeling they’d enjoyed a ‘Good Friday’ (!) as opposed to enduring a niggling unappetising display on Saturday.

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