Terry Wills on Albion’s lucky escape.
It’s Sunday morning, the day after. I’m reflecting reflecting and squirming on a shocking Baggies performance, one that unless it’s turned around in the third round replay will see another early exit from the FA Cup courtesy of Bristol City.
Last week I stressed that shock results are numerous. Lower division clubs can, and often do, and at the Hawthorns City were seconds away from pulling off another in added- no, over added on time. Thank you Mr Referee; Albion supporters weren’t complaining unlike the City manager and officials who were absolutely distraught, with good cause.
From the start they went flat out to stifle Albion’s attacking attempts and succeeded although numerous chances were tossed away. We had few shots on target and City always looked dangerous on the break. What went wrong? Why did the team with few exceptions fail to gel? How did they come so close to losing?
Plus points? Not many apart from Stephane Sessegnon. He continued his recent impressive displays and for me he was our only striking threat until the controversial Saido Berahino, on as a sub, opened the scoring. Whatever his off the field problems one thing cannot be disputed. Saido is a natural goal scorer and if he and the club could somehow resolve their obvious differences, he would be an invaluable asset.
James Morrison as usual grafted away and his controversial equalising goal raised the loudest cheer of the afternoon from those Baggies fans that hadn’t left early, and there were many. The defence weren’t at their best. Far too many mistakes in possession giving the ball away with awful distribution while Ben Foster must have wondered whether they were playing with him or against him as he was constantly put under serious pressure via a series of frankly awful pass backs.
Biggest disappointments? James Chester, a natural centre back playing as a full back. Will he turn out to be an expensive flop? Only Tony Pulis can determine the answer. On to Salomon Rondon. He possesses strength, power and always looks dangerous. Unfortunately he again spurned a splendid chance and while no one expects him to snap up every one far too often he fails to even hit the target.
Rickie Lambert, another player yet to make a positive impression. His England days are well and truly behind him. So should Saido Berahino be sold and Rondon and Lambert fail to improve it’s painfully obvious that an additional striker, or two, will need to be recruited.
Two away Greed League matches this week. First, to face a Chelsea side beginning to rediscover their natural form then on Saturday another difficult game at Southampton.
Prospects? Judged on that poor performance against Bristol City all I can foresee is a defeat at Stamford Bridge and possibly a point from the Saints. But just perhaps Albion can dramatically improve , in the process easing the memory of a Bristol City no show.