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Terry’s Baggies Blog

“WE ARE TOP O’ THE LEAGUE”

31-12-2007

It’s certainly been a merry Christmas for Baggies supporters, with nine goals scored and just one conceded in two games at The Hawthorns. Albion are now three points clear at the top of the Championship, allowing Terry Wills to contemplate a happy New Year.

Poor Bristol City and Scunthorpe! They can blame their Xmas misery on the fixture compilers who determined months in advance that it would be their ill fortune to visit the Hawthorns immediately following a trip to the Potteries where the Baggies experienced their usual Stoke City result.

First the ‘high flying’ Robins. A team who’d been punching above their weight all season. At Ashton Gate they’d poached a point leaving their fans celebrating as if they’d won the FA Cup. But in truth they’d been outclassed to an embarrassing degree.

So it was interesting to hear a City fan on a national radio station, summing up their chances of reaching the Premiership saying “We’re going to top the League on Boxing Day”.

In fairness for the opening 20 minutes they did resemble a team that just might look capable of causing an upset. But after that they could consider themselves fortunate they weren’t travelling back to the ‘Cider Country’ drowning their sorrows on the back of a ten goal battering.

Despite lacking the services of Filipe Teixeira and Chris Brunt, Albion served up a feast of attacking football to delight a full house crowd boosted by City’s boisterous following.

Amazingly the first 45 minutes was goalless although how the referee and his assistant came to the decision that a foul on Roman Bednar wasn’t in the penalty area or didn't at least warrant a red card for being the last defender, only they know.

Second half. Let the fun commence. A cross from Carl Hoefkens turned in deftly by Bednar. 1-0. More missed chances until Robert Koren sprinted in the direction of his visiting family in the Halfords Lane stand celebrating a wonderful strike that even the legendary Ronnie Allen would have been proud to score. 2-0.

Time for ‘Super’ Kevin Phillips to prove WHY he is an ‘ace striker’. The City keeper and a defender, obviously on different wavelengths, dillied and dallied and there he was gratefully accepting the first of two Boxing Day Christmas gifts for 3-0.

Four minutes later he was unwrapping his second before nonchalantly strolling away seemingly oblivious to the fact the Hawthorn’s faithful were purring with pleasure. 4-0.

Darren Byfield on as a substitute managed to pull a goal back to leave the final score a VERY flattering, as far as City were concerned.

Outclassed? You bet, confirmed when their manager Gary Johnson commented “West Brom are a Premier team in waiting, after half time their performance was superb and we have to applaud that and learn from it”

On to Scunthorpe United. Concessionary prices and another sizeable attendance. All hoping, no expecting, to see a result against a club lauded for their achievment in reaching the Championship but who in truth are a poor team.

Honest? Yes. Hard working? Without a question. Determined to put on a show for their fans? Undoubtedly. Full of quality? Er, no.

That’s why the result was never in doubt despite the Baggies not being as sharp and penetrating in the first half as they’d been against Bristol City.

The first of two controversial decisions allowed that man, Kevin Phillips, to (seemingly) casually curl the ball over the head of ex Baggies keeper Joe Miller left flat footed and stranded while his defenders protested in vain that Phillips was clearly offside.

He was (!) but protestations counted for nothing apart from seeing Scunthorpe’s boss Neil Adkins sent to the stand after vehemently showing his displeasure!

It was made even worse for the visitors when shortly afterwards, defender Marcus Williams was shown a red card for an innocuous looking professional foul on Zoltan Gera.

Added on time, and again it was Robert Koren sprinting way in celebration after giving Baggies a 2-0 ‘comfort’ time lead.

More goals? Of course and as each of the three lifted the spirits of a now ecstatic set of fans it rekindled memories of the hit song from the Hollywood Musical ‘Annie get your Gun’!

Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you”!

Simply swap the names of Betty Hutton and Howard Keel for Kevin Phillips and Zoltan Gera then add Craig Beattie to the deadly duo.

After Kevin Phillips second tremendous strike, the first line of those lyrics were surely flashing through Zoltan Gera’s mind when he thundered the ball high into the roof of the net! “Anything you can do I can do better”!

Came the chance of a ‘Super’ Kevin’s hat-trick as he grabbed the ball out of the hands of substitute ‘Tiny’ Miller’ after a penalty award. Groans when his shot was palmed away but replaced with a standing ovation as he made way for Craig Beattie.

More missed chances until Craig Beattie reprised his goal at Leicester by trilling in a broad Scottish brogue “I can do anything better than you”!

In the meantime the ‘Iron’ somehow managed to miss a one opportunity that at the very least would have raised the spirits of their despondent supporters.

And you know I ALMOST felt sorry for them!

So at the turn of the year the Baggies are three points clear, four taking into account the incredible plus 27 goal difference, and automatic promotion has to be looming high on the horizon.

But then, ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’ and there’s still a long way to go. We won’t win every match, we’ll probably concede ‘silly’ goals due to playing over elaborate football, but as long as the majority of chances created are converted then we have no one to fear.

Next up a New Years Day visit to unbeaten at home Ipswich Town followed by Saturday’s visit to Charlton in the Third Round of the FA Cup.

Like all supporters I want to see Albion win EVERY match but if we are to suffer a setback then please let it be after the trip to London rather than the far more important visit to East Anglia!

Until next week.

“Come on you Baggies”

Terry’s not too concerned if Albion lose in the FA Cup.

Has the famous old tournament had its day?

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