Albion Over The Line

By Terry Wills

At last Baggies fans can relax. We are there!

The sole aim of the past few weeks, to gather as many points possible to ensure we will still be watching Greed League football next season, came to a successful conclusion in the most dramatic circumstances.

Hallelujah, we finally made it and to achieve this with a victory over our long-established traditional rivals (last achieved 26 years ago, in the dark and distant past) it was all the more memorable.

In terms of a ‘quality’ game this probably fell a little short. But in terms of non-stop excitement (both teams desperate for the points) and passionate fans who would be more than happy to see their team win, the sense of euphoria at the final whistle from Baggies supporters will long be remembered.

Local derbies are games apart from run of the mill, week in, week out matches, proved when after a mere three minutes Abdoulaye Meitie conjured up an own goal ‘Keystone Cops own goal. The looks of amazement, shock, and horror on the faces of Baggies supporters, including mine, made me wonder if this was to be another one of those days. We wanted an equaliser, Villa fans wanted a second, and despite playing and creating promising opportunities, that comical strike separated the teams at the break, and on reflection the only other significant feature was seeing Paul Scharner’s first yellow card for another typical unnecessary mid-field challenge.

What had stood out was the pace and threat Peter Odemwingie plus the usual aggressive mid-field attributes from Youssuof Mulumbu, proof positive coming in the second half. With Baggies fans craving an equaliser –relief with Peter the Great ramming the ball home to level the scores.

Enter Albion’s own ‘villain’. Two minutes later Paul Scharner makes a needless unnecessary foul to be promptly handed a second yellow card, entitling to him walk off  the pitch to watch his remaining ten men team mates hopefully capable of hanging for one point, instead of what may have been a possible three.

In the past the likelihood of an Albion defence crumbling under pressure would have been immense. as Villa pushed forward sensing their one man advantage could prove crucial.  But that was before Roy Hodgson came in to instil his own form of discipline and commitment – and how often have I said that since he’s taken over?

Both sets of fans imploring and screaming for a winner and then out of the blue…..

A through ball from Simon Cox. Mr Mulumbu shrugs off challenges, turns and shoots leaving Brad Friedel looking on in desperation as in front of the Brummie Road Enders his shot turns out to be the winner.

The crowd erupts – well at least the Hawthorns majority, and thanks to the now recognised Roy Hodgson mentality we held out as the clock moved so very slowly down before pandemonium reigned took over.

West Bromwich Albion 2 Aston Villa 1. We HAD broken that horrendous run and could celebrate in style. What a pity I’m virtually teetotal. Yes, a much appreciated win as the players gave their all especially Jonas Olsson, Youssoff Mulumbu, Peter Odemwingie and the ever improving Simon Cox.

So on to this week and another local derby away at Molineux. To put it mildly, a game not for the faint hearted. Especially as this Sunday’s High Noon shoot out could go a long to decide whether those of the old gold and black persuasion eventually succeed in retaining their Greed League status!

Here’s hoping for a good game, no aggro between the fans and a result that could establish as Albion Midlands top-dogs?

A final footnote to the Hawthorns win against Aston Villa. For me at least it was the highlight of the weekend, relegating into second place the wedding of a certain Prince William who just happens to be an acknowledged Villa supporter. I haven’t the slightest doubt that he subsequently more than enjoyed his wedding reception but it wasn’t any more enjoyable than the win over our neighbours from Villa Park!

Come on you Baggies.