Not paying the penalty

Terry Wills rues Albion’s inability to score at Stoke.

No prizes for identifying the major talking point following the Baggies goalless draw at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium.. Yes, that non-penalty decision from the country’s top referee, Howard Webb, in conjunction with an assistant referee who obviously fails to understand the rules of the game or had forgotten to wear his glasses or slip in his
contact lenses before leaving home.

Everyone including Mark Hughes admitted it was a penalty but it couldn’t hide the fact that it was a game that should have seen the three points on the way back to the Hawthorns, without the need of a spot kick. Rarely has a Baggies team dominated the Potters as they did in this game. Another solid all round performance, only rarely troubled, and had Stephane Sessegnon slotted home two great chances supporters would have been in  seventh heaven.

For all that, Sessegnon’s display stood out. Pace and ball control of the highest order, he was a constant menace but sadly those spurned opportunities negated his skills.

Unbeaten on their travels so far but that record will be under severe scrutiny with this week’s Greed League visit to Anfield. It may not be the ultimate fortress it once was, but they’re third in the table and with Luis Suarez and Stephen Gerrard in particular, playing at their peak, it’s still a game that should a team return unbeaten they know the travelling faithful fans will be happy.

There’s speculation surrounding Steve Clarke’s choice of strikers and formation. Rarely can I recall a period when he can, in theory, put all his attacking players names into a hat, pull out the requisite number he feels confident can do a good job for him, under a required system and let them get on with it.

But then that’s better than the alternative is it not? It isn’t an easy game to forecast but should the Baggies return still boasting an unbeaten away record I’ll be more than happy, as I suspect will a majority of our supporters.