You know what it’s like after a good night out. No matter how much you prepare against it, there’s always some sort of hangover. Albion were no different four days after they came within minutes of beating Manchester United on Monday night.
Alan Irvine only made one change – with Ben Foster returning from injury in goal – but it may have been a completely different side in the opening 45 minutes. Albion actually started the better of the two sides for the ten minutes. The Baggies were moving the ball nicely and looked to have started where they finished against United.
But after 16 minutes, Palace were ahead. Lescott lost his marker Hangeland from a corner. The giant defender’s header was initially blocked but he poked home the rebound from close range. Ben Foster was blocked off during the corner, but Albion’s appeals for a foul were waved away.
The goal completely knocked the stuffing out of Albion. We lacked tempo, movement and were devoid of any ideas going forward. Palace, were quick to regain their shape and Albion struggled to break down two banks of four.
Gardner had Albion’s best effort of the half when his long range shot was pushed over the bar by Speroni in Palace goal. Dorrans also wasted the opportunity to equalise from the resulting corner when he blasted over after Speroni had spilled.
Then came the controversial spot kick. Pocognoli chased back and tackled Bolasie in the area. The defender looked to have won the ball but crucially the Palace winger made sure he tumbled to the floor. His fall conned the assistant referee who signalled for a penalty. Palace skipper Jedinak sent Foster the wrong way.
After the break
It couldn’t get much worse for Albion. On came Victor Anichebe for the ineffective Sessegnon – who in my opinion didn’t work hard enough to find space in between the visitor’s defence and midfield.
Anichebe didn’t fill me which much hope when he came on wearing a short sleeve top and a pair of gloves! Yet despite his cold hands, Anichebe brought some heat to Albion’s attack. The big man gave Berahino some much needed help up top as Albion went a bit more direct.
After Speroni had saved from Berahino’s curling effort, Anichebe nodded the resulting corner into the net. During the corner, Speroni was caught by Dawson’s elbow forcing the keeper to be replaced by former Wolves ‘keeper Hennessey.
The goal saw Palace come under real pressure. Albion were finally moving the ball quicker through midfield and Anichebe was providing a real outlet for the Baggies. Craig Gardner came within a whisker of scoring his first Albion goal when his long-range effort smashed off the crossbar and away for a goal kick. It looked like it was going to be one of those days.
After the fourth official had signalled six minutes of injury time, Albion’s pressure finally paid off. Wisdom played the ball to Anichebe. The forward twisted and turned before being felled by Jedinak. Berahino kept his cool to continue his scoring run and to rescue an unlikely point at half time for Albion.
Yesterday was a classic game of two halves. Albion were awful during the first 45 minutes. Gardner’s effort aside, Speroni had very little to do. While Palace were not much better, their wide men looked threatening and took the visitors were clinical in front of goal.
After the game, Irvine revealed he had to use some choice words at half time. Whatever he said worked. Albion were a different side after the break and Anichebe made a real difference when introduced. The Baggies deservedly equalised late on but a poor 45 minutes cost Albion what should’ve been 3 points.
Irvine is slowly winning many fans around – myself included. But he needs to be more assertive when making substitutions. Anichebe aside, he waited until the 83 minute to swap a tired Dorrans. He reluctance to make changes has now cost us points at home against Sunderland, Manchester United and now Palace. Fresh legs earlier in the game may have brought an equaliser, which would’ve left time for a winner.
It’s also a concern at the amount of draws we’re accumulating – that’s now 4 in 9 games. Last season we struggled because of the amount of draws. While a point is great away from home, it’s of little use when you’re trying to climb the table.
Anyway, Albion now travel to Bournemouth on Tuesday night – they only beat Blues by 8-0!
COME ON YOU BAGGIES
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