Well, me and my old man made the long journey to Norwich with another 2,500 Baggies fans hoping to not get beat to ensure that our destiny remained in our hands.
I was not confident at all to be honest ahead of the game, and would have happily settled for a 0-0 bore draw, whilst my old man fancied us for a sneaky win! In the pub before the game I checked the team and was quite disappointed to see Vydra start upfront. But other than that I was quite happy with how we had set up. All about opinions, but I just don’t rate Vydra and feel he doesn’t offer anything other than pace, whereas Berahino or Anichebe would have been preferred in my view !
Just 30 seconds into the game, Gareth McAuley didn’t put enough on a back pass but Foster was alert to come racing out his goal and clear the danger. Albion were at sixes and sevens in the 13th minute and Robert Snodgrass’ deflected pass fell to Johan Elmander, who should at least have hit the target, but blazed over from 16 yards.
Fifteen minutes in, James Morrison played a square ball to Amalfitano, who skipped past the challenge of Martin Olsson and found the corner of the net beyond the outstretched Ruddy. It was nothing less than what we deserved after starting well for a second successive game. City were slow to get back into it and Ruddy had to be sharp to deny Matej Vydra from a West Brom counter-attack.
We came under a little pressure before half time when Elmander’s diving header from Hooper’s flick forced Foster into action on 39 minutes but Chris Hughton’s team were struggling to dominate the midfield area. A good first half in summary, but discussing it at half time over a pint I felt we needed that second goal to kill the game off as at 1-0 and from recent results, it was still very much game on.
After the break
Just into the second half, Dorrans’ sublime pass down the left set Vydra in on goal. The former Watford ace raced into the box but chose to try and pick out Sessegnon rather than shoot and allowed Tettey to clear for a corner. Two minutes later, Elmander teed up Snodgrass in the box at the other end and McAuley did well to deflect the Scotland international’s shot over.
We breathed a sigh of relief on 57 as Snodgrass’ free-kick was only half cleared and the ball fell to Hooper, who smashed it off the crossbar from a tight angle. I felt we had started to defend what we had too early and invited Norwich on, but thought we were fantastic Saturday, particularly defensively. The difference with Olsson alongside McAuley is such a big one and they defend together brilliantly.
Gera replaced the tiring Dorrans on 77 but the Hungarian's afternoon was ended prematurely by injury six minutes later, with youngster Liam O’Neil called on to slot into central midfield and Morrison moving out to the left. The Baggies kept their nerve through four minutes of stoppage time and almost added a second in the closing stages, with Ruddy blocking Berahino’s close-range shot after the young striker got on the end of Morrison’s pass. Had he squared for Sessegnon, it would have been a simple tap in. We seemed to have learned our lesson from last week with Berahino and Amalfitano taking the ball into the corner to wind the clock down and ensure the points went back to the West Midlands.
A cracking day out, and a brilliant result especially with Fulham beating Villa! I thought we deserved the points and, as I mentioned, thought we were fantastic defensively Saturday and looked dangerous on the break. Maybe a second goal was deserved for our overall play. It was so pleasing to get a clean sheet, and I really believe one more win will ensure Premier League football for a fifth successive season.
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