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Terry’s Baggies Blog



There's a saying that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. For any Albion fan add a third – defeat at Stoke City, where The Baggies haven't won for quarter of a century. Terry Wills watches the game which robs Albion of top spot in the Championship.

Yes, it happened again. The proud leaders of the ‘Fizzy Pop ‘League (better known as the Coca Cola Championship) plus 2,600 supporters, arrived at the Britannia Stadium at long last hiding a ‘muted’ feeling of optimism. Surely THIS was the occasion when the red and white spoilers would find Albion ready, willing, and able, to disprove the myth that Stoke WILL always prove their betters. It was time to put a stop to such nonsense. We had to put an end the myth of today turning into an established legend of tomorrow.

For the first time in weeks Tony Mowbray was faced with the right kind of selection problem – the walking wounded ‘throwing away their crutches, and being pronounced fit, with top scorers Kevin Phillips and ‘Tiny’ Miller back to terrorise defences in their own distinctive ways.

But that possibility was 45 minutes into the future, ‘Mogga’ taking the decision to retain faith in Roman Bednar as a lone striker role supplemented a five- man midfield.

The Radio Five Live preview of the game had described it as a confrontation between ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ and the opening minutes proved only too clearly the truth of this assertion – the Baggies trying to create openings via slick passing while City’s usual ‘in the face, close them down, long ball game’ proving the contrast in styles was so obvious.

Just five minutes gone and Dean Kiely was fishing the ball out of the back of the net after Ricardo Fuller scored from close range. Was there a handball in the build up? Albion protested vehemently but how often do officials change their minds?

More frustration. Whenever the Baggies got anywhere near the City penalty a ‘red’ stop light called an immediate halt, while at ‘our’ end, Baggie reject, Ricardo Fuller was enjoying a field day at the expense of Roman Cesar and Pele. They simply couldn’t cope with his power and aggression made worse as after a lengthy spell of Albion possession, he handed Stoke a 2-0 lead.

Those pre match deep down feelings that this would again be the loss of thee points had to be faced. Bednar, looking as isolated as Polar Bear in the Sahara Desert, lacked tangible support. Chris Brunt couldn’t provide the necessary crosses, the midfield, while always probing for openings failed, and from my perspective both Ishmael Miller and Kevin Phillips HAD to start the second half.

Wish granted. Replacing Brunt and Teixiera and at last they began to worry the previously solid looking Stoke defence. ‘Tiny’ with pace and strength, Phillips with his astute running and positioning off the ball.

Attack after attack. Crosses from both flanks, Paul Robinson making several telling runs, but all to no avail. If a potential scoring opportunity was created the shot or header would be blocked or the Keeper would palm it away. And amazingly and frustrating they invariably landed on the foot or head of one of his defenders.

Stoke, while being forced to defend always looked dangerous on the break, especially when Fuller crossed the half way line. All afternoon Cesar and Pele had failed to curb his threat, proved beyond doubt when after more Baggies pressure, he ‘picked’ up the ball a long way out, shrugged off feeble challenge from Cesar and ran on to notch the best goal of a hat-trick that sent ‘Potters’ fans in to seventh heaven.

We simply looked on downcast, dumbfounded, and disappointed. How else could we feel? Oh yes I almost forgot, depressed!

Still reluctant to throw in the towel Baggies pushed forward, finally rewarded with a headed consolation goal from Roman Bednar after third substitute, Martin Albrechtsen, had provided the opening,

In theory we were still in with chance of snatching a point BUT if there’s better team in the Division at defending a lead with a combination of dubious time wasting tactics then I’d like to know their name.

More scrambles. More blocked shots. But ominously whenever Fuller was in possession the distinct feeling was ‘Here comes trouble’.

Final whistle. Replaced as league leaders after one week and the realisation that despite being the best ‘footballing’ team in the Division, if we had to face teams possessing a similar philosophy to Stoke every week (thank God we don’t) we’d be nearer the foot of the table than the head.

Just to compound the misery AND remind me of the misery endured, when I arrived home to watch Alesha Dixon deservedly win thefFinal of the BBC’s Strictly come Dancing, just guess what one couple were dancing to? The most hated despised, football anthem of all “Why, why, why Delilah”!!

Next up, back to back home matches against third placed Bristol City and struggling Scunthorpe United. Six points up for grabs so here’s hoping for a happier blog next week.

To ‘The Stirrer’ and all footie fans everywhere I extend best wishes for a very “Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year”.

Unless you just happen to be a supporter of Stoke City belting out ‘Why, why, why Delilah’ after tucking in to a hefty portion of Christmas Pudding followed by a celebratory festive drink. Both at our expense!

‘Boing Boing’.

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