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Terry Wills' Baggies Blog

ALBION'S GROUNDHOG DAY

22-10-2007

Ground Hog

Brilliant at home. Rubbish away. That's the Albion in a nutshell reckons Terry Wills after another long and disappointing journey, this time to Colchester.

Just what is it about Albion's defensive qualities, or should I say lack of, that week in week out, means the Baggies are becoming a 'soft touch' whoever they're playing?

The game at Colchester's antiquated Layer Road was, sad to say, yet another abysmal defensive performance bearing in mind that in the opening six minutes the difference in quality between the sides was so apparent that there was no way the Baggies could possibly lose the game.

They 'strutted' around controlling and passing the ball with consummate ease and after Kevin Phillips cheekily lobbed the keeper to open the scoring I really couldn't see anything other than a badly needed away win.

I really should have known better!

Eighty seconds later a free kick conceded (remember Albion has been practicing how to combat set pieces all week!) and came the inevitable result. Jackson curling the ball over and around the defensive wall to leave Dean Kiely to pick the ball out of his net and the scores level.

Not to worry, it was early days, and with Albion still creating scoring opportunities I was confident it was only a matter of time before the next goal came.

Eleven minutes later it did. The only drawback it came from Colchester's Kevin Lisbie who after shrugging off a challenge from a sadly out of touch Martin Albrechtson slotted the ball home.

Albion's defence, along with the travelling faithful' confidence, was now becoming very frail. The full backs were allowing the United wide men far to much room to operate and although 'Tiny' Miller was on hand to head home a 39th minute equaliser the feeling was that United's long ball power game allied to their stern defending was becoming difficult to combat.

More narrow squeaks at both ends so at the break it was honours even. Although the quality of defending had been a far from comforting sight.

Early second half responses were encouraging. First Kevin Phillips was a fraction away from restoring the lead and shortly afterwards another attempt to lob the keeper hadn't sufficient height to put the Baggies ahead.

But that was it. United became increasingly confident and every time they pushed forward the Baggies defensive frailties became more and more exposed.

Martin Albrechtson' s miserable afternoon was rounded off when his challenge on Mark Yeates (but did he make contact?) meant the ref had to point to the penalty spot.

Up stepped Yeates to slot home and it was virtually game over in the 67th minute.

The Baggies 'huffed and puffed' but Colchester's more direct approach and movement permanently threatened another display of defensive fragility.

A double substitution, Gera and Brunt for Koren and Teixeira, was of no avail. Promising attacking situations being nullified by a series of corner kicks even failing to clear the near post.

Six minutes remaining and Tony Mowbray's last throw of the dice saw striker Bartosz Slusarski , making his debut, replacing Carl Hoefkens.

It was to no avail. Nothing had changed and several disgruntled fans, clearly showing their frustration, left before the final whistle.

So on their behalf and on reflection I feel I have to ask some very pertinent questions regarding these dismal away performances.

Games played six. Won one, drawn one, and lost four-accumulating four points from a possible eighteen!

Have conceded four penalties and seem determined to 'throw' away a great chance of promotion by providing great entertainment.....Sadly for opposition supporters!

To sum up and still reflecting on the defensive weaknesses (what could I possibly compare them with?) what did I aspy in a front garden of a house just a short walk from the ground?

A foot high container with a sign attached saying...... "Soiled Nappies Disposer" For sale 2.00!

IF only the Baggies seemingly never ending, and somewhat similar problems, could be disposed of in such a manner!

Home games against Blackpool and Norwich City gives Tony Mowbray's frustrating players another chance to keep themselves in the promotion frame but should they fail to do so then it looks like being a long hard season for all Baggies supporters bearing in mind these 'Groundhog Day' away displays.

"Come on you Baggies"

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