Terry Wills gives the Albion perspective on Monday night’s clash.
Question – How would a fan of any team feel if, in a game against their long-standing traditional rivals, they’d opened up a 2-0 lead (and it should have been three or four), bossed the opening 45 minutes, but at the final whistle had been forced to endure the agony of realising the opposition had clawed their way back to finish with a share of the points?
Answer – and no prizes for guessing that as the saying goes, they’d be ‘As sick as a parrot’.
In company with every Baggies fan I was on my feet as a rejuvenated Shane Long cracked home an early opener…”YEEEESSSS,” a mere 11 minutes and it was ‘Boing Boing overdrive when his second confirmed this would be Albion’s night.
Despite this I’ve been watching the game long enough to know a 2-0 lead doesn’t guarantee victory. If the opposition score next, it’s game on but notch a third, let celebration’s begin.
The scenario-Stephane Sessegnon, unmarked in front of an open goal, got his feet in a tangle, missed the opportunity, and inadvertently gives Villa the chance of getting back into the game.
Oh to have been proved wrong. Comfortably leading at the break , the game was as good as won, wasn’t it? No change early on until Paul Lambert made a triple substitution that ultimately changed the game with Gabby Agbonlahor, who always performs well againt Albion, leading the way.
Villa pulled it back- 2-1-and the ominous feeling that we weren’t going to win was welling up, made worse as a cracking drive from Ashley Westwood levelled the scores and it’s fair to say that at the time Albion supporters were worried Villa could even poach a winner.
Both teams went flat out but oo no avail. A point apiece that certainly left Villa supporters the happier of the duelists.
In a local derby anything can happen. Some players will raise their game while others freeze to an alarming degree.
This applied to Sessegnon in particular; way below form (he should have won the game) and supporters were crying out for a substitution, preferably Saido Berahino as a replacement.
Steve Clarke agreed but no Saido, instead James Morrison, and it was only with even minutes to go that Goran Popov, who hadn’t had a good game, was replaced with Victor Anichebe in an attempt to revive the Baggies’ early
It made little difference and at the final whistle it head to be Villa supporters leaving feeling happier. They should have lost but credit to Villa. Realising that Albion’s first-half dominance had been replaced by indecision, they were more confident and looked an entirely different side.
So a repeat of last season’s 2-2 draw, the only difference being that then Albion had been 2-0 down but pulled it back to share the spoils. That was as frustrating for Villa fans as for Albion’s on Monday night in front of the Sky cameras when surely the watching millions enjoyed a typical local derby?
So it’s as you were in the bragging rights for a few days at least. Albion still ahead of our Aston neighbours in the table via a negligible goal difference but that’s more than likely to be reversed after this week’s games. Baggies away to Newcastle, Villa home to Sunderland and barring a repeat of our stunning win at Old Trafford I anticipate Paul Lambert being the happier of the two managers when the Greed League table is updated. But for all
Come on you Baggies.