The last time the Albion travelled over to Wales was a somewhat poor day for all involved. Steve Clarke got sacked, the Baggies lost and the weather was pretty atrocious and soaked the travelling faithful. Swansea was a completely different day however. The sun was shining, Albion won and a second half performance that will live long in the memory for the 2,000 Baggies in attendance.
The game beforehand was billed as a 'must win' match as we entered what could be described as a pivotal group of games. Setting off early, I got the train across to Swansea (via a stop off in Cardiff) and headed toward the city centre to watch England beat Italy in the oval ball game. With that match duly won, it was now onward to the Liberty Stadium, a ground that has not been particularly kind to the Baggies in recent years.
The team saw four changes from the one that faced Manchester United last weekend, with Craig Dawson, James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Stephane Sessegnon coming in for the injured Chris Brunt, Claudio Yacob and Morgan Amalfitano and the benched Zoltan Gera.
Swansea's team saw three changes from the one that drew with Palace last week with Jordi Amat, Jose Canas, and Roland Lamah coming in for Chico Flores, who was suspended, Pablo Hernandez, who was benched and Nathan Dyer, who missed out on team selection all together. Michu made the bench for the home team after ten weeks out with injuries.
With the Albion faithful taking their seats and Albion chants ringing round the away end it was time for the match to begin. However, within just a couple of minutes, the home team took the lead through Rolald Lamah after what could only be described as pretty abject defending. Lamah, after a through ball from Wilfred Bony, burst behind Steven Reid, tricked his way past him and slid the ball past Ben Foster in goal. Two minutes in and we were in a nightmare situation.
It's fair to say that Swansea were the better team for the entire first half and ultimately we were lucky not to have conceded again just before the twenty minute mark when Lamah and Bony yet again linked up well, with Bony shooting towards goal only to be denied by Ben Foster.
Just ten minutes later, Swansea could well have doubled their lead again when Wayne Routledge's cross to Jonathan De Guzman just alluded the Dutchman. De Guzman was to have another chance when he broke away but thankfully stumbled under pressure from Craig Dawson, even tally sending his shot wide. Just before half time, the Swans were to have another chance when Ashley Williams, who was a former trainee at The Hawthorns, had a free header which thankfully he sent into the ground and over the bar. Half time really could not come quick enough for the boys in red. 1-0 down at half time and there was very little for us to mull over in the break... Surely we would be better in the second half ? The answer was to be a deafening ‘yes’.
After the break
The second half started off far better than the first and nearly got an equaliser straight away when, following a corner, Mulumbu had a shot blocked by Jordi Amat. Then seven minutes after the break we were level through Stephane Sessegnon, who put the ball past Vorm from 25 yards out. 1-1 and all level.
A lot of fans feared the worst at half time, but getting a goal so soon after the restart certainly made the away end a far more cheery place than half time!
There was a penalty shout for the home team when De Guzman hit a shot towards the arm of Gareth McAuley, but after watching this on a replay, if it had have been given, it would have been very, very harsh, however us and penalties this season is another matter entirely... So back to the game.
Albion were by far the more dominant team in the second half and it was Anichebe, who had been linking up well with Sessegnon, who was next to have a chance but unfortunately he sent the ball wide from 18 yards out. However, Swansea nearly got a goal when De Guzman, who had been on fine form all match, saw his well placed shot saved by Foster in the Baggies goal.
With only a handful of minutes left, most Albion fans could sense that the game was there for the taking and with five minutes to go, Mulumbu made sure the points would be ours when he intercepted the ball and drove forward, shooting the ball into the back of the net 20 yards out. Cue manic scenes in the away end, with fans jumping on chairs and hugging everyone around them.
The remaining minutes of the game were nervous but once the full time whistle went, the Albion team and fans drew a massive sigh of relief. Finally Pepe Mel had got his win and Albion had somehow turned from having no chance in the first half to taking the game by the scruff of the neck and grabbing the 3 points.
Chants of 'We've done it before and we'll do it again' and 'Ole ole ole Pepe' rang out across the Liberty Stadium drowning out the boos from the Swansea fans. These next few games are massive and we started off exactly how we needed to.
Bring on Hull City next week.
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