Terry Wills on a successful holiday period for the Albion.
No complaints from Baggies fans! It was a perfect farewell to the old year with a victory at Southampton compounded with a welcome win against Hull City just what the proverbial doctorordered.
It gave six welcome points despite the fact that in both games the first half displays were definitely below par. A quick equaliser from Phillips against the Saints followed by a hat-trick from Hal Robson-Kanu was sufficient in ensuring the travelling Baggies faithful enjoyed the journey home while in a dreadful opening display against Hull City I doubt if there was a single fan who wasn’t shocked at a listless, turgid non-performance. Small wonder that the atmosphere more resembled a church service than a New Year’s Day game of football.
Hull, playing a style of football that belayed their lowly league position, were the better side and could have been more than a single goal ahead but what Tony Pulis said during the half-time break certainly worked. A rare header from Chris Brunt lifted the atmosphere and when online technology proved that Gareth McCauley’s header had crossed the line we were on our way to stabilising our healthy league position.
This was confirmed as a James Morrison netted a third to finally silence the muted roars from the Tigers supporters. Best players? Claudio Yacob, Alan Nyom and Matt Phillips, the latter demonstrating why Tony Pulis was so eager to bring him to the.Hawthorns.
This week sees Derby County visiting for FA Cup action. It’s been a long time since the Baggies made any significant progress in the competition and I know that most supporters would welcome a genuine tilt at a final appearance. I would imagine that it will be a much-changed team who are given the opportunity to prove their worth in front of a larger than usual attendance. County have sold out their ticket allocation and their fans will occupy the whole of the Smethwick End, thus ensuring that there will be a far better (couldn’t possibly be worse) atmosphere than the Hull game.
Forecast? Depends which Baggies team turns up but again I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a replay too decide who moves into the fourth round.