West Bromwich Albion 2 - Middlesbrough 3
Well that was a kick in the teeth.
Couldn’t really complain about the starting lineup and we began the game dominant.
Borough were everything you’d expect of a Pulis team. Big, dull, percentages and packed their half forcing us to do exactly what they wanted - go wide and cross. Unfortunately for us they were also very efficient with the chances they had.
We gifted them a goal through overplaying - SJ giving it to Barry with two players on him.
Despite playing ok - maybe as well as you can when Pulis drags you down to the level he desires - we did keep falling into the trap of swinging high crosses into the box which is exactly what he wanted.
I thought we deserved to go in level at the break though and as we kept knocking the door JRod stole in on a low shot that was going wide to poke home.
Second half we were the better team again although chances were hard to come by. When Gayle pounced on a half chance to hit a deflected winner I thought we’d see the game out as we’d dealt with Borough quite well.
Unfortunately we conceded a really poor second from nothing - a long punt, an inability to get bodies in place, Dawson getting caught too square and flat-footed and SJ seeming to let the ball go through him from where I was sitting.
We rallied a bit and looked like the side more likely to go on and win it, but then a horrible error from Brunt with his first touch converted a ball that was drifting out of a position of no danger to an almost perfect assist in the centre of the goal. Surely someone should’ve given him a shout?
We had a go but unsurprisingly Borough saw it out.
Bloody annoying. You could make an argument that Moore played Gayle too wide, didn’t adapt the 4-3-3 well enough or switch the right personnel but ultimately we conceded three massively avoidable goals through individual errors - there isn’t much he can do about that apart from maybe accept our keeper doesn’t seem to have the judgement or quality to play from the back all the time so give him more license to hoof it.
If you score 2 goals against a Pulis team you really should be winning it. We’ve just got to get on with it and go hard in the next league game.
Special mention for the terrible referee who left it far too long to dish out the first Borough booking.
Obviously Brunt’s cameo was a disaster, Murphy looked rusty and Livermore didn’t really offer anything major.
Big challenge to go up now and high stakes if we don’t. We have to start winning games.
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