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Terry’s Baggies Blog

NO SUBSTITUTE FOR A WIN

25-02-2008

Baffling substitutions were arguably the cause of Albion’s downfall as they slipped to their second home defeat of the season at home to Hull. Terry Wills wonders whether the Baggies are blowing their chance of automatic promotion for the second successive season.

When a flock of ‘timid’ Throstles’ meet up with a bunch of ‘Hungry Tigers’ there can only be one result. The home birds saw the chance of automatic promotion being severely mauled and slipping ever further into the distance.

Tony Mowbray’s after the match quotes “There’s no problem. I don’t think there are any nerves. Nerves are something that the media could manufacture. There’s plenty of games for us. There’s no problem with our psyche going into the next 13 games”.

Well before painfully compiling the weekly offering on the Baggies performance, (perhaps performance is an inappropriate description (!) bearing in mind what we subsequently saw) don’t worry Tony, Albion fans will relieve you of the problem of any nerves emerging.

In fact judging from the gloomy dispirited faces as we filed away from the Hawthorns the majority already feel the weight of expectation is already bearing heavily down on our shoulders rather than yours.

So what went wrong or were Hull City simply the better team and well deserving their 2-1 win? How about the tactics, individual performances and use of substitutions?

First Jonathan Greening and Robert Koren were back in midfield. Up front Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar started leaving new signing Luke Moore and fellow strikers Ishmael Miller and Craig Beattie warming the substitutes bench.

Things didn’t bode well from the start. A scrappy tense affair made worse by a referee who allowed Hull City, or were they Stoke City in disguise, to ‘play’ ugly football, and take players out in the most cynical fashion often behind his back.

Tactics now the ‘hallmark’ of virtually every team who undeniably know THAT’S the way to frustrate Albion and in this case win the game.

There was little cohesion for the first 20 minutes. Passes went astray. Defenders and midfielders gifted the opposition far to much time and space on the ball especially Jay Jay Okacha who sprayed the ball around with a practised ease.

Hull’s first goal came as no great surprise. Frazier Campbell granted all the time in the world, promptly turned, twisted and finished with a 25-yard cracker that left Dean Kiely clutching at thin air.

At last signs of improvement! Gera and Koren picked up the pace and from a free kick there was Zoltan nodding home the ‘equaliser’ until the yellow flag indicated he was deemed offside.

But at least and at last this woke up the crowd and succeeded in spurred the Baggies to enjoy their best spell of the game. Constant attacks and cynical defending couldn’t prevent another header from who else but Roman Bednar levelling the scores after latching on to delightful chip forward from Kevin Phillips and from then till half time the Baggies were bossing the game. The question was could they maintain it?

In a word, sorry three words, NO, NO, NO.

Hunting for a winner Tony Mowbray, in my opinion, made a massive error by replacing Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar with Ishmael Miller and Luke Moore.

‘Super Kev’ no surprise, but Bednar???

He’d been the greatest threat and despite Mogga’ naturally wanting to see his latest signing in action supporters around me gasped in surprise at this decision.

This led to both Moore and Miller operating down the flanks presumably to leave space for the midfield to utilise the space in the middle. It didn’t work.

Seventy minutes left and off went Jonathan Greening replaced by Filipe Teixeira. Sadly this had little or no effect.

‘Tiny’ again ‘confirmed’ that when he receives the ball he has only one thought in mind. And that isn’t passing to a colleague in a more favourable position.

If a winning goal was to come the feeling was growing that the continuing trend of allowing City so much time to create openings could be proved fateful.

Oh to have been proved wrong.

More ‘Comic Cuts’ defending as Dean Kiely demonstrated an inborn tendency to embarrass his defenders. Flapping at the ball it was left to Leon Barnett to miraculously head a point blank volley off the line.

Sorry Deano, in my humble opinion it’s time for Michael Danek to be given his chance.

The inevitable disaster came in the 82nd minute. Zoltan Gera gave the ball away with a wayward pass, two static defenders agonisingly failed to close down Caleb Folan and he had no hesitation in capitalising on the error.

Agony and looks of bewilderment on Baggies fans faces followed by a fair number deciding they’d seen enough while the ‘Tigers’ supporters celebrated as only away fans can.

But a game’s never over until it’s won and amazingly an opportunity of salvaging a

point was created by Luke Moore but sadly missed by Zoltan Gera, both leaving the fans holding heads in amazement.

Were there ANY positive points from a result that sees the chances of Automatic Promotion disappearing as dismally as they did last season?

Up front Roman Bednar (I still can’t believe he was substituted) proved a constant threat to the physical, ‘cynical’ Hull defence while Martin Albrechtsen and Leon Barnett coped well with the constant threat of the City strikers.

Midfield? Fell well below their own high standards the result being a lack of clear-cut chances and shots from outside the 18 yard box seldom causing their keeper any major problems.

However the very worrying trend that shows no sign of ending, is allowing opponents far to much space, and playing ‘fancy’ football in the wrong areas of the field. Unless there’s a change, this could lead to another season of football outside the confines of the ‘Greed League’

So from being proud League leaders, three points ahead, and playing teams off the park, the Baggies could find themselves battling to maintain a top six-spot. A ridiculous thought? Well with one win in the last six league games, plus other challengers picking up points, it could happen.

Among them are Hull City. They know how to grind out results. Get in opponents faces. Take their chances. Obstruct, kick, push, do whatever’s needed.

All that matters is the result and after clinching these three points who’s to say they’re wrong apart from Baggies supporters who although being treated to Tony Mowbray’s footballing philosophy wouldn’t object to seeing to a few scruffy 1-0 victories.

Next week Plymouth Argyle come visiting and as they’ve now only two points behind us another defeat would really put the cat among the pigeons’

Time to log off but before that how about this Banner headline from the News of the World.

“Tony Sunk By Suicide Squad” Anyone Albion fan out there care to disagree?

Please, please “Come on you Baggies”.

Have Albion blown their chances of automatic promotion? Could they even miss out on the play-offs? Leave a comment on The Stirrer Forum.

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