Two out of Two

Terry Wills likes this Albion and derbies combination.

Now that’s what I call a REAL local derby.

Unlike the satisfying, albeit passionless, win against the Wolves, Albion’s first league victory at Villa Park for 32 years (and I remember it well!) was a feisty affair that left both sets of supporters arguing passionately at what they considered were refereeing decisions that eventually decided the outcome. For all that the Villa fans I chatted to on the way home, and the majority phoning local radio, reluctantly admitted through gritted teeth that Albion had been the better team and deserved the three points.

Naturally it was the contentious decisions from the referee and his assistants that dominated the proceedings and not surprisingly here the fans views were expressed to the full. Attempting to be as fair as possible, always difficult as every supporter is aware, regarding the Chris Herd red-card and the very nasty injury suffered by Shane Long, I’ll simply say this. Herd’s dismissal was a nonsense. Okay he had a minor skirmish with Jonas Olsson but if he had deliberately stamped on Albion’s no nonsense defender, for sure Jonas would have made his feeling clear – he certainly wouldn’t have picked himself up and walked away! Villa have successfully appealed the decision the red card has been rescinded and a potential three game cancelled. Justice was done.

As for Alan Hutton’s challenge on Shane Long, this was more than a 50-50 challenge that could have left Baggies most dangerous striker missing more than the reported six week absence.Lucky for Hutton and but for the fact that Phil Dowd didn’t even show a yellow card, meaning it cannot be looked at in retrospection, he escaped what could and should have been a straight red.

Villa can argue that they lost because Baggies were only playing against ten men but even before Herd’s red card I thought Albion played much the better football and in the second-half were clearly the better team. Cue for Villa fans to vehemently disagree?

There were plenty of other talking points; Bent’s early miss, Odemwingie having a ‘goal’ ruled out after being adjudged offside, Chris Brunt’s horrendous and almost now-expected penalty miss, all rounded off when Odemwingie somehow managed to miss the ball completely with only Shay Given to beat. But at the final whistle the sheer joy at pulling off a win at Villa Park said it all. We had managed to beat our nearest neighbours…..AT LONG, LONG LAST!

Can Albion make it three successive wins by seeing off Liverpool at the Hawthorns this week? Their record against the Baggies is frightening although last season we did break the long running pattern of defeats with a 2-1 win to send the Pool fans home ‘Walking Alone’  and without the expected three points.

Prospects? Despite Shane Long’s absence, if Somen Tchoyi is at his hopefully baffling best the Merseysiders will find him a handful especially if Albion’s defence can continue to limit the opposition to a minimum number of chances. But in saying that, should Ben Foster and his colleagues continue to cock up what should be simple decisions, namely if in doubt, hammer the ball into touch, we could again lose goals and points. Remember Stoke City? A repeat would be fatal.

It should be another exciting encounter and whatever supporters fell may happen counts for nothing – it’s only Roy Hodgson’s chosen XI that will determine whether the current successful streak continues. It’s over to you lads.

Come on you Baggies.