I was not confident before this match. I always hate playing sides like West Bromwich Albion, and managed byTony Pulis the prospect is even less attractive, since regular readers will now my detestation for agricultural and pragmatic football. Furthermore, the pre-match team news confirmed the absence of Carroll. I won’t say “I told you so” but I told you so. This is the problem with this player and our reliance on him; he is far too prone to injury and was always going to break down sooner rather than later.
Looking at our line-up before the match, the midfield looked solid but it was up front that the question marks remained and I have to confess I anticipated a match with very few goals. Under 2.5 looked a good bet. Right, well don’t be asking me for any betting tips anytime soon!
We had the worst possible start and particularly against a side like Albion. An early defensive mistake again highlighted the lack of quality right back acquisition during both recent transfer windows. Kouyate is a wonderful player but he is absolutely not a right back and was, as the vernacular goes, totally mugged off for our first goal in common with Randolph who allowed it to pass in between is legs. Your heart sank. You just knew that the game would already be reduced to the Midlanders parking the bus and our hapless attempts to break them down. This is certainly what transpired during that first period. We had long spells of possession but found it very difficult to pierce their resolute rearguard. True, we did have what what looked to be a perfectly good goal ruled out since there was an Albion defender laying prostrate in the penalty area and playing everybody on side but, once again, we created very little of incisive quality and the visitors were relatively untroubled. The inevitable conclusion was that this was just the sort of game that we really did need wor Andy for. During the half time interval we were all left scratching our heads wondering just how this game might be turned around. In truth, at that stage, I could personally find few answers.