West Bromwich Albion 2 - Millwall 0
A bit of a scrappy performance but an important win in what can be a relentless league.
No real qualms with the lineup but I thought the bench looked very old - would’ve preferred to see some younger options.
We started okay and mostly dominated the first half apart from ropey defensive/keeper moments that a better side would’ve punished.
Millwall were quite well organised defensively and closed Barnes out of the match quite well - happier to let Brunt and Livermore have it in front of them.
When we did get it forward quickly nothing quite came off or hurried the final pass and our set-plays were well nullified by defenders adept at bending the rules and blocking us off.
Half time came and it felt like we were well in control but in need of a goal to get them to open up.
The second half was much of the same as we tried to turn the screw. As the half progressed we seemed to be running out of ideas and when Phillips went off to hopefully avoid injury it looked like the game might dissolve away into a nil-nil, but Gayle pounced for a poachers goal following a rare out swinging corner from Brunt that had troubled Millwall’s big defenders and keeper for the first time.
Our goal did open the game up and very quickly afterwards Gibbs, who is probably a better finisher than most of our strikers for the last decade, tucked a chance away clinically at the back post after a Mears cross evaded everyone.
We probably should’ve added more goals but overplayed or over-cooked passes.
A clean sheet and in the end a comfortable victory - the kind we need to make a habit out of if we want to go up.
I do have a feeling of short term optimism so congratulations to all concerned for a WBA Double Six this week — points and goals. It is the result that count, not how you get there(?)
We all admired the Barnes storming performance by young Harvey on Tuesday – I suspect the idea of him being recalled in January must have unsettled him yesterday.
I was bemused at half-time against Bristol – were we really 3 up, after that torrid first 15 minutes when our defence still seemed to be in the warm up? I was impressed with many of Bristol’s young team.
That imperious run through the middle by Barnes, with a defender attached to his shirt, and the pass to hurricane Gayle was brilliant – as was Barnes’s shot for his goal.
The Millwall result was less convincing but perseverance finally paid off. I am concerned at the Dad’s Army content of the Squad (Where are you GMac?) even though I almost made Hoolahoop my man of the match for his very efficient cameo.
After all the stress of last season, I am going to enjoy the dramatic turnaround in the statistics - With 22 goals, we are the second highest scorers in all 4 Leagues (Peterborough overtook us yesterday). It was late February last season before we reached that total.
We have 3 of the top 10 scorers in the Championship. Our goals have come from Rodriguez 6, Gayle 5, Phillips 4, Barnes 3, Robson-Kanu 2, Gibbs 2. (PS Berahino missed an injury time penalty yesterday! He hit the bar — and did the same later in the evening).
I gather the last time the 2 managers met was on the playing field—Albion v. Millwall in 2004. We look forward to the return of Woy on Tuesday.
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