West Bromwich Albion 2 - Sheffield Wednesday 1
Those wondering how Slaven Bilic would deal with the suspension of two holding midfielders got their answer: use a centre half instead, because Semi Ajayi did a pretty decent job while Ahmed Hegazi filled in for him at the back. Hal Robson-Kanu got the nod to play up front and justified his selection after nine minutes when he latched onto a sublime through ball from Matheus Pereira and gave Albion the lead with a cool finish.
But although Albion have the better of the play they were unable to turn it into goals and a challenge by Filip Krovinovic on Kieran Lee ten minutes into the second half allowed Steven Fletcher to level the scores from the penalty spot.
But with two minutes left, Owls keeper Keiren Westwood fouled Pereira and referee Tony Harrington again pointed to the spot, substitute Charlie Austin beiong the man who put the ball past him for another Albion win.
Three more points keep Albion top of the Championship, two points ahead of Leeds and five ahead of Preston with all three teams on the same goal difference.
I thought that was a huge win given the way the game panned out and a rare occasion this season where we arguably got more than we deserved. Our midfield quandary was addressed by moving Semi into the centre with Krovinovic alongside him, with Hegazi into the back four.
I thought they both did okay first half in the centre. We nearly scored from kick-off and dominated the game. Semi won everything in the air and Krov got hold of the ball well - and we scored a great early goal following a great pass from Pereira and cool finish from HRK.
At the back we were a bit dodgy. Hegazi looked very rusty but irrespective of that it didn’t look like he and Barts had agreed who should attack and who should sweep, often resulting in both of them doing neither.
We controlled the game though and were good value for our lead at half time despite Wednesday roughing us up and slowing the game at every opportunity.
Second half we didn’t really get going and really lacked leadership in the middle. We couldn’t hold the ball and Bannan seemed to be free too often to control things for them - Pereira should really have tracked him better. Hegazi was also wobbling a bit and Townsend was being targeted.
However the penalty we conceded was a bit daft and possibly harsh - a foul could easily have been given on Krovinovic but he was adjudged to have bundled whoever tackled him from behind having dwelled on the ball.
Our subs were made with the intention of bringing leadership on but must go down as the 3 least paciest in our history. I thought Brunt was the pick of the 3 for his desire to get on the ball and play it forward but the penalty we earned was from a basic hit and hope - Austin tucking it away nicely.
I thought Wednesday deserved a point and I thought Slav made understandable calls with the team although what must’ve become of Harper?
A big test overcome with this result given the players available. Bodes well.
All text, pictures and graphics are copyright of BOING unless otherwise stated