West Bromwich Albion 1 - Millwall 1
Slightly disappointing result as we controlled most of the match but allowed Millwall back into it in the last 20.
Slav kept the same team as last week with none of the potentially exciting deadline day signings in the squad - again easy to see why and I’d imagine we’ll see them in midweek.
I think the game showed why we needed them. Millwall sat deep with every man behind the ball and although we passed it well and controlled the ball we didn’t really threaten other than when Phillips robbed the ball high to Zohore who hit it left footed straight at their keeper - a bit of a sitter.
We tried about 20 short corners without success and, for me, Phillips was probably our most frustrating player as he played very narrow too often, rarely providing us with width or a ball for young Ferguson to hit.
Second half we finally nicked a goal from a very straightforward set play and you’d have thought, given the way we controlled the ball, and with HRK doing a better job than Zohore, we’d see it out.
Unfortunately Millwall put a couple of big lumps on, played percentages and after a let off 5 minutes earlier we let in the softest of goals with a slow bouncing ball going across our box and back to be prodded home.
In my opinion it was Johnstone who was culpable - your keeper has to claim those or wallop it clear. I make that 2 in 2 games he’s cost us.
Big Slav gambled by opening the game up, dropping Krovinovic into centre midfield and putting Burke up top. From then on it could’ve gone either way but looked likely it would go neither way - as it did.
Overall there were still positives but we ran out of steam towards the end and lacked options although it was the sort of game we’d have lost last year.
The defence still misses Hegazi but I don’t think him being in the team would’ve won us the game - but Austin and stronger options from the bench might have.
Millwall made it difficult, slowed it down, rolled around whenever they were touched and will see it as job done.
Early days, still massively encouraged that we’re going to be better than last season as there are lots of good signs - just need a few things to click.
There was undoubtedly a sense of great anti-climax with this result after all the excitement and hype following the hectic end to our Transfer Window. The Austin remains in the garage along with our 3 new wingers.
The advertising around the ground is now dominated by Sadlers — The Lord is no longer our shepherd – he maketh way for Peaky Blinders – Those immortal WBA words now being removed from the adverts below the Board’s seats in Halfords Lane. No mention of our once visible Palm sponsor – now as invisible as our investor Mr Lai and our Chairman Mr Li (no relation). The Ideal Boiler mascot seems to have run out of gas.
I enjoyed the first half and felt that Krovinovic and Sawyers looked capable of dominating the midfield and Edwards looked as lively as he had been at Forest. Ajayi seems to have fitted into the defence very well. However it was soon becoming apparent that our main summer arrival, Zohore, was contributing very little – unfortunately his confidence not enhanced when he shot straight at their Keeper when he was put through by Phillips.
The arrival of Millwall’s huge Matt Smith seemed to give them more thrust whereas Robson-Kanu is remarkably consistent as being no effective threat on goal. Burke is still our £15mln mystery man.
On the whole, it is too early to judge. We all look forward to seeing the other new arrivals... and perhaps Bond needs a chance in goal?
Some of you may have seen the arrival of The Athletic, a new online Sports reporting venture with an experienced Journalist attached to all major Football Clubs – WBA have Steve Madeley. There were 2 fascinating articles this week – about Luke Dowling’s new strategy for the Academy and then a full review of how Jeremy Peace found Mr Lai and what happened (or didn’t happen) next.
Other News — Interesting Symmetry between 2 recent Government Announcements... "The Treasury are producing no more coppers but the Home Office wish to recruit 20,000 extra Policemen..."
I noticed a competition last week for Lexophiles... One of the winning entries ... "A hungry clock always goes back four seconds..."
I am not enduring a second Millwall visit on Tuesday – Hope to report again after the Blackburn game. Regards to all.
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