West Bromwich Albion 2 - Queens Park Rangers 2
Well we chucked this one away against a terrible side who, in the opening 15 minutes, showed even less fight than us and were utterly there for the taking.
The lineup was a bit negative - Okay didn’t make it, Bartley wasn’t in the squad and Palmer remained on the bench but it was a pleasant surprise to see Molumby back involved. I thought the dropping of Dike was fair.
We nicked a couple of goals early thanks to some woeful defending but that should’ve been it. Keep it simple, put the ball in their half as they can’t defend, hit the corners and push up.
But no - we were ponderous, sloppy on the ball, didn’t show enough effort to run in midfield and Wallace and Albrighton were swapped over very early.
The moment we sat back a bit QPR scored a decent goal but we allowed a simple cross for it to happen.
They were then the better team but we blew some great situations... both Swift and Wallace cutting in to shoot from the left after Townsend twice made bursting 40 yard runs on the overlap and should’ve been played in.
Elsewhere Swift began strolling about, Chalobah looked like he’d rather be somewhere else, Albrighton looked leggy and TGH got into groove of giving the ball away with everything he did.
We got to HT without looking in control and Molumby looked like he was coming on but it didn’t happen.
After actually starting alright we self destructed with Pieters playing a crap pass back to Griffiths who mis-controlled it badly but still had enough time to hit it wide... however in his flustered panic he walloped it straight at the closing QPR striker and it flew in. Nightmare.
From then on it was pretty bad… we didn’t really work their keeper and QPR should’ve won it with some big chances.
At 2-2 our subs either didn’t make much difference or, in the case of taking BTA off, actively weakened us. We were slow and predictable, too willing to go backwards than take risks and I thought Grant and Dike were especially poor again.
The bloody results largely went our way again and, had we held on here, with Molumby, Okay and Bartley coming back into the team you’d argue winning 5 out of 6 remaining games as possible if unlikely.
We simply didn’t have enough leaders, battlers or winners out there. I think Corberan has to take some of the blame again - Livermore would have given us more in the centre, Palmer would probably have seen us win 2-1 and BTA shouldn’t have come off. We showed little urgency or nous to win it once more, it was all very predictable with no plan b.
Elsewhere, Ben Foster made an incredible penalty save for Wrexham - had we offered him the contracts we offered either Chalobah or Albrighton we’d be in the play-off spots now.
We went to the protest before the game which was muted... but we didn’t stay for 12 minutes into the game; just as well as we’d have missed all our best moments!
Supporters heeding the call by Albion for Albion to delay their entry into the ground until around the twelfth minute would have witnessed seventy-eight minutes of pretty poor football, although whether witnessing the first twelve minutes, within which Albion took a two-goal lead, as well would have made their matchday experience, overall, better or worse has to be open to serious debate.
In what was framed as a "must win" game for both clubs, Corberan reverted to the more familiar formation, one which you would hope that all players at the club are familiar with, by dropping second striker Dike, to allow Albrighton to come in, nominally on the let of the three, although offering up the prospect of Wallace being deployed on the side where he's looked least effective as well.
The two wingers would be involved in the first moment of note, as the game was still struggling to find any real shape, when Wallace stole the ball from a poorly weighted pass in right mid-field, and set up Albrighton only to see the end result fired high and wide.
Four minutes after that, Townsend, getting into the kind of advanced positions that had seen him draw the foul for the penalty in the last game, after connecting with a great through ball, would draw another one, albeit outside the box. The delivery was aimed towards a line of players all running into the six-yard box but somehow the QPR goalie came for it, flapped, missed it, and the ball travelled on to the far post where it more or less hit BTA and ended up in the back of the net. I doubt even he had thought it was going to reach him, but all credit for being in the right place to take advantage of the keeper's howler.
Three minutes later and Ajayi would be the beneficiary of a good delivery, this time as Albion worked a free-kick on the right in such a way that, instead of putting it into the box so as to put the presumably still sheepish away keeper under more pressure, they got Albrighton in acres of space on the bye-line, and his pull back was met by Swift, and although his slightly weak shot was not wide enough of the keeper to give him the chance to save it from crossing the line, the stop saw the ball travel to the far post where Ajayi was still lingering, and as he slid in to turn the ball goalwards, it first appeared that he hadn't got enough on it to beat the keeper's second dive, but he did get enough on it, and the ball crossed the line.
Whilst you couldn't have said that we took our foot off the pedal after going two up, protesters entering the ground on twelve mins would certainly not have seem much of a showing going forwards, with Wallace and Albrighton now swapped and the centre-mid of TGH and Cholabah looking fairly anonymous.
The away side seemed content to move the ball around in the space they were now being afforded and as the twenty minute mark passed a cross was delivered, from space on the left into our box. Ajayi didn't bother to challenge the player he was marking and that allowed the attackers to glance the ball across the goal and into the far side netting.
Just as the half was coming to an end, Townsend would shoot wide after BTA did some good work down the left, but then QPR would have the last chance of the half as a header just missed with Griffiths beaten had it been on target.
A couple of minutes into the second half and it all started to unravel, as Griffiths, out of his area as the goalkeeping sweeper received, but failed to fully control a pass from his left as we tried to find space to knock one long. With the loose ball now contestable by a QPR player closing him down, Griffiths tried to make a hasty clearance, only for the ball to bounce off the attacking player and curve just inside the post. Not a moment he'll want to remember once Palmer returns and he's contemplating things from the bench.
Having seen a two-goal lead taken away didn't really see any great change to the home side's play and, although Corberan would make a couple of double changes; Grant for Albrighton and Rogic for TGH, around the hour mark; and Dike for BTA and, surprisingly, Molumby for TGH with fifteen to go, neither he, nor his players could seem to affect the game, in which the away side now seemed to be playing like the side chasing promotion, and two close chances, within the space of the eighty-third minute, the first a diving header, the second a snapshot from the edge of our box, both had our keeper well beaten but were both just far off target to see us drop all three points.
But of course, other results, Millwall's loss and draws for Coventry, Norwich and Blackburn, still see us remain five points off a top six spot with a game in hand on most, although playing away, at Stoke, will, if the history of such games and indeed of our recent away form is anything to go by, surely see all hope extinguished, and more sadly still, to the mocking strains of Delilah.
Corberan would have appear to have achieved the goal of keeping us in the Division, but any future he may have been hoping to build may yet be overtaken by an worrying inability to change games, and, of course, events "off the field"
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