Mersey maestros

Terry Wills watches a hard-fought Albion win.

What a shock! Against all the odds Tony Pulis did it again. Taking a woefully out of form Albion to compete against a very much in-form Everton at Goodison Park he returned with a magnificent 1-0 victory and three invaluable points.

It wasn’t pretty, simply a case of denying Everton time and space on the ball via a combination of 100% commitment and the desire to compete for every ball. The defence superbly marshalled by Jonas Olsson frustrated Everton until the final whistle, leaving Reberto Martinez complaining at refereeing decisions that in effect he felt had cost him the game.

Particularly encouraging was improved performances from James Chester, Salomon Rondon and Saido Berahino. Ben Foster was his usual reliable self while Jonny Evans demonstrated what a shrewd signing he’d been. As for Rondon’s winning goal, Jonas ruefully admitted it didn’t matter who scored but added he’d be lying to himself that his flicked header hadn’t been bundled into the net!

So well done to a very much stretched Baggies team minus key players, that face a series of tough games including Leicester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. But they can wait. On Saturday it’s back on the Wembley trail hoping to reach the sixth round, providing they can see off Championship side Reading.

It won’t be easy. Cup shocks are notorious and I just hope that this doesn’t provide another. Reading play attractive football and with the crowd behind them they’ll feel capable of upsetting the odds.

What isn’t needed is another draw. Bristol City and Peterborough United are enough to be going on with but in saying that I wouldn’t come as a great surprise if Reading did find themselves wending their way to the Hawthor’s for a midweek replay.