Terry Wills gives an Albion perspective of last week’s derby days.
Disappointed? Yes.Surprised? No. Two defeats in five days against our traditional greatest rivals is hard to take, although as said last week with home advantage Villa had to be considered favourites.
Naturally the disgraceful scenes in the cup game, subsequently condemned by both clubs, have taken centre stage. But back to basics starting with what I considered to have been the most important, the league defeat which for me was a case of Albion losing the game rather than Villa winning it.
First half a very poor display, never looked like scoring and Villa were the better team. After the break a Saido Berahino equaliser coupled with a more positive attitude appeared to have secured what would have been a vital point only for Ben Foster to concede a penalty in the fourth minute of added on time. He later apologised but sorry Ben, no apology could have appeased such a dreadful error.
All players make mistakes and get away with them but when a goalkeeper loses a game; need more be said? The other talking point -the decision not to show Alan Hutton a red card following his clash with Saido Berahino. The media as a whole couldn’t believe it and Villa fans I chatted too were also astonished.
But that was it. Aa desperately needed win for the Villa which I believe will be a major step on the way to them avoiding the possibility of dropping into the Championship.
On to the cup clash to determine which of the teams would represent the Midlands in a semi-final and here I have to add that Wembley should only be the venue for the final itself.
A 5-30 kick off-fans already baying for blood, such was the passion and with Albion in control for the first-half Brown Ideye put his name forward for Albion’s miss of the season award. In the second half Villa, aided no doubt by Tim Sherwood’s rollicking, raised their game and with pace on their side began to boss proceedings.
Delph took advantage of sloppy none defensive marking to open the scoring and with Claudio Yacob’s red card that summed up Tony Pulis’ first taste of a real local derby. Fellow columnist Dave Woodhall felt it was the correct decision. I didn’t and neither did Tim Sherwood. All which led to the ‘ch of the Da’ pundits saying “If that’s a red card you may as well ban tackling for ever.”
A second goal from (it just had to be) Scott Sinclair more or less sealed the win. Villa fans were ecstatic, Baggies supporters dejected, all leading to the unsavoury scenes that have rekindled memories of the bad old days.
But time to move on and concentrate on the most important objective, namely retaining a place in the Greed League. There is still much to be done and with the next game against Tony Pulis’ ex-side Stoke City being followed by a trip to Manchester City it doesn’t require a genius to underline that Albion still have a lot to do before safety is assured.
The squad are no more than adequate. A defence without genuine full backs leads to Joleon Lescott switched from his logical position. A midfield that lacks genuine pace and strikers who receive little or no back up.
Forecasting the result against our bogey side?Again a win would be a major boost but a share of the spoils wouldn’t be the beginning of a renewed struggle to ensure safety -or would it?