It was a glorious spring afternoon as I made my way to The Sportsman to see some friendly faces before the game. After venting our anger at the management of the club and farcical nature of the club’s AGM earlier this week, I made my way to the ground in preparation of hearing The Liquidator at the Shrine again.
The atmosphere inside the ground was electric as all four sides of The Hawthorns enjoyed singing our spiritual anthem once more. The rousing start seemed to inspire the players as Albion took an early two goal lead.
Morgan Amalfitano scored a goal-of-the-season contender when he ran onto a long ball before lobbing the ball over David Marshall from 30 yards out and near the touchline. It got better for Albion in the eight minute when Graham Dorrans ran on to Matej Vydra’s knock down to slot home. Almost immediately, The Hawthorns rose to its feet again to support the ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign.
It took until 20 minutes before Cardiff ventured into Albion’s half. Taylor’s low cross was smothered at the near post by Ben Foster with Frazier Campbell waiting.
The Baggies were in full control but the visitors somehow found a way back into the game. Jordan Mutch over hit an inswinging cross and the ball looped over Ben Foster. The England keeper was helpless to stop the ball sailing into the top corner.
Despite the goal, Albion regained their composure and Youssouf Mulumbu tested Marshall with a long range effort that forced the stopper into a low save.
After the break
The Hawthorns again enjoyed a cameo appeared from Harry J and the All Stars before the game kicked off as the Baggies aimed to hold on to three precious points. It was Albion again who started on the front foot. Craig Dawson blasted a header over the bar before deflecting Mulumbu’s drive inches wide with Marshall helpless.
It should’ve been 3-1 in the 52nd minute when Vydra broke free. His poked effort was palmed away into the path of Morrison, whose own effort sailed high into the Birmingham Road End.
The game was becoming surprisingly open as Cardiff pushed forward for an equaliser and Albion tried to hit the visitors on the counter attack. But, as opposed to the first half, Albion were unable to contain Cardiff’s midfielders and the high intensity pressing game eased off with Vydra tiring up front.
Foster made a save from a long range Campbell effort before the inevitable happened. Mutch was fouled inside Albion’s half. His resulting free kick was headed goalwards by Steven Caulker and the ball again looped over Foster. I’m sure the England international will be disappointed with both goals. Albion again had thrown away a lead.
It was now Cardiff in the ascendency. Mel threw on Berahino, Thievy and Gera in a last gasp attempt to salvage something from the game. The move worked. Berahino did superbly to keep the ball in play and cross for Thievy to slide the ball between Marshall’s legs. Once more The Hawthorns erupted. Albion had done it! They’d won. Unfortunately, they hadn’t.
Cardiff pumped the ball forward and Albion broke. Four Albion players against one Cardiff defender. Morrison, instead of playing the ball over the top to the on-rushing Sessegnon and Thievy, played the ball down the line to Berahino. With just 30 seconds left, the striker – instead of running time down and taking the ball into the corner – played a tired pass straight to the defender.
The ball was returned and Reid, instead of letting McAuley clear, headed the ball across the pitch and into the path of Zaha. The winger squared and Daehli turned to smash the ball into the top corner off the shins of Craig Dawson. Heartbreak for Albion’s fans and players.
What an emotional rollercoaster of an afternoon. Albion twice won the game only to throw it away as many times. After taking a two-goal lead, the Baggies tried to take the heat out of the game but managed to concede twice. Cardiff’s first goal was extremely fortunate and both goals were errors by Ben Foster, in my opinion. But after scoring a third so late in the game, Albion only had to run the clock down to earn three crucial points.
Now Albion travel to Norwich knowing they must at least get a point. It won’t be easy, especially after the demoralising end to the game. Mel has a massive job to do now just to raise the spirits of the players ahead of the game at Carrow Road. Norwich are tough to beat at home and Albion are brittle at the back. It’s going to be another agonising 90 minutes.
COME ON YOU BAGGIES
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