Blackburn Rovers 2 - West Bromwich Albion 1
I found that one quite hard to take because although the quality was maybe lacking, it was another largely dominant performance against one of the leagues better teams. We topped all the stats except for those the one that matters and ran the game for long spells - demonstrated by the fact that the home side didn't even win a corner until the 92nd minute. We created enough chances to win it but Furlong, Ajayi, Grant and and Diagana spurned them whereas Blackburn had 2 half chances and took them. Before Dike's injury we knew we needed a striker with a proven track record - in my mind we now need 2 and we need someone who will score the bread and butter goals, and hopefully a raw but quality game-changer off the bench from a top premier league club. This has to be to priority above all else. We can get by in other areas but up front we need reinforcements now... we can't wait.
A real positive in this campaign so far is I actually look forward to games and being entertained and this one was no different. Given the schedule this week I thought Bruce got the lineup about right - there will be changes on Wednesday and Saturday. He was rewarded with a first half where we pinned Blackburn in and although they are well drilled, we did enough and created enough to score with Diagana missing the best chance putting a point blank header wide. Before half time Brereton-Diaz nicked a goal for Blackburn against the run of play but depicting the quality and guile up top that we lack. I don't even think he's that good or would make it in the league above but it was enough. Questions fairly asked of Button though - a decent goalie would've got there.
My concern from then was that we simply don't have 2 goals in us, so I was delighted that straight after half time we conceded a second. Grant lost the ball cheaply, Diaz ran in behind Furlong as he did for much of the game, Ajayi couldn't catch him covering and he squared to Gallagher who was clinical from about 18 yards.
I mention Grant here because although we had dominated his individual contribution was in my opinion a new low in an Albion career of terrible performances. He was beyond anonymous and was actually a liability in terms of where and how he'd give the ball away, for our attack and our defence. He couldn't get the better of a 17 year old centre back who might be a good young player but is still a kid. If individual stats were produced I'd imagine his passing success percentage would've been less than 10. I don't expect him to be a Drogba-esque lone front man but when there is nobody on him I do expect him to be able to control a ball and pass it 5 yards. His goal record, arguably not that good given the team he's been in and chances created, seems to mask everything else but I just can't see how a team can be consistently successful with him in it.
To give us some credit the 2nd goal didn't stop us dominating and Grady pulled a deflected effort back on 60 odd minutes by at least having a go.
Bruce then went bold and early, taking off Furlong for Phillips, Livermore for Okay and Mulumby for Robinson with 4-2-3-1 remaining but Swift dropping deep and Robbo going in the hole.
It was bold and we didn't have many other options on the bench. It felt like he was going for the win not an equaliser.
And we huffed and puffed and Grant missed a big chance but we just didn't have the weapons up top where we needed them.
Special mention to the ref who was terrible all game. He allowed Blackburn countless bad fouls whilst only issuing a single booking when really 3 or 4 should've been carded first half (Blackburn employed quite a lot of gamesmanship and tactical fouls, the kind of which aren't typically allowed anymore, as well as some brutal challenges far worse than those we've had reds for in recent years). And then he added 11 minutes injury time from nowhere Bizarre.
Despite the result I'm upbeat because we've totally dominated the last 3 and a half matches. I'm no Bruce defender, didn't want him, thought he was crap last years etc. but I thinks he's doing a good job so far and really needs Gourlay to deliver for him now. We can't wait another 2 weeks.
We were much better off points-wise last season but the signs are still better for this campaign. Come on Ron, get a couple in!
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