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Terry’s Baggies Blog

WHISPER IT QUIETLY – “WE ARE GOING UP”

10-04-2008

Watford’s shock 3-0 home defeat by Barnsley leaves Albion standing proud at the top of the Championship, although as Terry Will reports, Tuesday’s win at Blackpool which took them to the summit was less than impressive.

I honestly don’t know how to report on a game that saw Albion run out (on paper) convincing winners.   A result that honestly defies description/s but in a ‘vain’ attempt I can come only think of Bizarre-ridiculous-surreal, plus the overused UNBELIEVABLE!

(Summed up by what I suspect were the feelings of those there as “How the hell did we manage to pull off a win like that?)

But back to the beginning. With Albion’s ticket allocation being minimal and wanting to ensure seeing the match, a Lancashire supporter managed to purchase four seats on behalf of myself and three other devoted Baggies fans in the Home End of ‘Legoland Road’.

What this meant of course was not being able to wear any colours, shout, cheer, boo groan or curse as the occasion demanded. Let’s face it four demented Albion fans among 8,000 Seasiders would have left us resembling a pod of whales stranded in the Sahara Desert. and almost certainly swift ejection and a VERY early ride home!

Team news.  In - Ishmael Miller, Chris Brunt, and Pele, back to the bench for Kevin Phillips, Roman Bednar and James Morrison. Zoltan Gera? He was rested altogether.

Pre match Tony Mowbray had warned Blackpool would prove tough nuts to crack as they’d been recognised as being the hardest working and running team in the Division.

He wasn’t wrong. In the first half apart from a brief spell midway through it was a genuine back to the walls battle.

Ben Burgess powered a headed against the bar. Jonathan Greening headed the rebound straight to Shaun Barker whose shot was blocked for a corner.

Every time the ball was in the Baggies half we held our breath looked on with glum looking faces and groaned inwardly - while all around the ‘Tangerine’ clad ( unaware of our presence) Blackpool drum-inspired Pool fans sang and roared as if their very lives depended on it.

On the odd, very odd, occasions Albion mounted any sort of menace it came via ‘Tiny’ Miller. In fact Mickie Mellon, remember him (!) commenting on BBC Radio Lancashire stressed “Blackpool have to watch this man Miller. He appears to be the most potent threat and the Pool defence look uneasy when he runs at them”

Martin Albrechtsen limped off in the 28th minute to be replaced by Leon Barnett.

More chewing of finger nails as the ball whizzed back and forth around Dean Kiely’s box. But at last Blackpool took a deserved long overdue lead, this tine Ben Burgess’ header leaving the keeper stranded.  (I presume ‘Stirrer ‘ readers won’t be surprised to hear this came from a set piece right wing free kick? No, thought not)

A goal down at the break and the chance to top the league seemingly disappearing over the horizon at a rate of knots Tony Mowbray replaced Pele with James Morrison realising more than anyone the Baggies needed a goal to get back into the game.

While not completely changing the flow of the game at last the Baggies began to impose a degree of control .although a goal looked as far away as ever.

Enter the saviour - a certain ‘Super’ Kevin Phillip coming on for Chris Brunt who inspired a transformation and a result that even surpassed the Colchester match!

Another run into the box from Hoefkens, in went a challenge and the referee was pointing to the Penalty spot! Was it a penalty? We couldn’t tell from but I know my immediate thought was “A chance to ‘steal to point and move into third spot in the Championship. Please DO NOT miss it. PLEASE, PLEASE”

Eight thousand Pool fans screamed and screeched abuse at Kevin Phillips as he lined up the ball. WE held our breath trying to look disappointed when his shot levelled the score after going in off a post…Phew!

Anger and disappointment from the Seaside fans- INWARD relief from the ‘Famous Four’..God it’s almost impossible NOT to share in the joy of those Baggies supporters sitting and standing opposite us. ‘Lucky Sods!

THAT was the defining moment. ‘Tiny’ rushed to pick the ball out of the net and sprinted back to the centre circle. The look on his face and general demeanour was clear. 

He thought we could now go on to do what seemed impossibly just ten minutes earlier, actually win the game. Surely not?

But they could and they did. From resembling a string of Donkeys trundling along the Blackpool’ beach in the first half, they took complete, and I mean, complete control.

They began to express themselves with swift accurate passing. Robert Koren was running and making things happen and for the first time Blackpool really were on the proverbial rack.

Three minutes later and the drum-banging fan, along with his compatriots, was stunned into silence which we tried (!) to imitate.

The killer blow. A pass from Hoefkens to Miller. he slipped his marker, a cross to Phillips and it was 2-1.

The now stunned Pool fans couldn’t believe it, neither could we in truth and then with Albion now ‘toying’ and teasing the opposition it became a mass exodus when ‘Tiny’ latched on to a great pass from Robert Koren, cut in and scored with a cracking left shot.

So how did we react? A hint of a smirk. A mutual feeling of wanting to jump or joy.

Wanting to celebrate a ‘footballing’ robbery? All of these and more.

In fact so much were the Baggies in control they could have finished with a five goal tally and how the Pool supporters would have felt if that had happened I can only imagine.

Leaving ‘Legoland’ surrounded by myriads of home fans we naturally couldn’t express our feeling but as we got into the car, shut the door, and fastened our seat belts it was safe to let rip! “We are top of the league, say we are top of the League”

Perhaps only for a day as Watford have a home game against Barnsley but then even

if they do providing we beat them at home on Saturday the Baggies will be well placed to claim an automatic promotion spot. Preferably to finish as Champions!

It’s difficult to sum up this performance succinctly so I’ll simply say “Awful for 80 minutes. Devastating in the last 10. And here’s hoping it’s the latter display that’s on show for the watching millions watching on Saturday when Watford and Nathan Ellington come visiting.

At lest I’ll be able to ‘scream and shout’ among fellow supporters as opposed to the surreal experience of sitting on your hands and biting your lip as necessary at Legoland Park!

Come on you Baggies”

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