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Terry’s Baggies Blog

BAGGIES PAY THE PENALTY

26-11-2007

Tony Mowbray’s first nil-nil as Albion boss takes his team back into the automatic promotion places. But as Terry Wills observes, a late missed penalty against “the Dingles” has taken the edge off the achievement.

85 minutes played against Black Country rivals’ Wolves. Neither team had given up hope of snatching the ‘magical, Monday Morning bragging rights’ as the game hadn’t produced a solitary goal.

It had been an amazing 72 games since the Baggies had featured in a Goalless Draw, but as time began to run out it appeared that this would see the sequence broken.

True both teams on the run of play could have been considered unfortunate if they’d subsequently lost and from the comments around me the majority felt a draw would have been a just result.

Then ‘HALLELULAH! THE DEFINING MOMENT’

Referee Chris Foye was pointing to the penalty spot in front of a packed Smethwick End where Baggies and Wolves supporters had been hurling the usual ‘good natured’ (?) insults at each other, even before the High Noon shoot out had kicked off!

YES!!!! ‘We’re going to snatch it at the death! A single thought flashed through the mind, ‘the win will give us a ‘massive’ seven points lead over Wolves, (eight taking into account goal difference) come on lads make our day”

Everyone in the East Stand shot out of seats and I daresay the only persons in the Hawthorns who didn’t must have been those unfortunate to be denied the opportunity from the disabled section.

Zoltan Gera had been given the opportunity of glory despite being the fourth choice penalty taker. Those ahead being ‘Tiny’ Miller, Kevin Phillips and Chris Brunt! Two missing through injury while Brunt had been substituted in the 65th minute.

Hearts pounding with expectation, a short run up and from EVERY Baggies fan a combined mass groan. He’d missed, or from the Old Gold and Black persuasion, frenzied cheers, Wayne Hennessey was their hero of the hour.

He’d guessed the right way - the shot wasn’t particularly hard, and it was just the right height for any keeper worth his salt.

The final whistle and displays of VERY contrasting emotions. Wanderers fans celebrated as if they’d won the game while Albion supporters trudged away, no doubt sharing my thoughts and feelings that we’d lost.

But what happened before then? Well Tony Mowbray SO obviously missing the services of Kevin Phillips decided stick to a 4-5-1 formation leaving Ishmael Miller as the solitary striker, the only change from the team that demolished Coventry being Chris Brunt for the injured James Morrison.

Obviously feeling the talents of midfielders Gera, Teixeira, Koren, Greening and Brunt would provide sufficient back up.

Wolves for their part adopted a similar formation and for most of the game the teams cancelled each other out. Yes Albion had the bulk of the possession but could never relax as Wolves were quick to break forward at every opportunity.

Genuine scoring chances were few and far between although Hennessey was the busier of the two keepers. Teixeira blazed over from a promising position while in a spell of prolonged Wolves pressure they missed a great headed chance when it seemed easier to score.

Looking for a win Tony Mowbray made two unforced second half substitutions. Craig Beattie came on for Chris Brunt and Sherjill Macdonald replaced Filipe Teixeira.

Before that it was ‘Tex’ who forced the best save of the game from Hennessey as leapt to tip a shot, seemingly bound to finish in the top corned of the net, away from danger.

Baggies fans were increasingly frustrated as Wolves continued to thwart the Baggies normal ‘free flowing’ passing game and there was a growing feeling that a solitary goal would win the game who ever scored it.

Came the third substitution a few minutes before the penalty award, and the implications of this, Roman Bednar having to replace ‘Tiny’ Miller due to injury could have major repercussions on Albion’s hopeful thrust for Promotion.

The eventual dropping of two points palls into insignificance compared with the subsequent news that our new found Hawthorns hero could be out of action for up to six-weeks.

Couple this with the absence of Kevin Phillips I can’t help feel that if we look to the likes of Beattie, Bednar, and Macdonald, to notch the necessary goals to keep us in an automatic promotion spot we could, metaphorically speaking, be clutching at straws’ But then I forget, there’s always John Hartson waiting for a recall!

So second in the table, but with three of the next four games being away from the Hawthorns I have the growing feeling with the number of serious injuries coming our way, Miller, Phillips, Morrison and Albrechtsen, we could (?) struggle to stay in a top six spot.

But we have to remain hopeful. The defence is looking solid-the midfield will invariably create scoring openings – BUT who’ll be there to put them away?

Answers on a postcard please, to Tony Mowbray. West Bromwich Albion Football Club-.The Hawthorns West Bromwich -.West Midlands. B71 4LF

Ps…If you receive an answer please let me know!

Out of the top six? Is Terry being too gloomy?

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