West Bromwich Albion 1 - Huddersfield Town 2
After an anxious few days of the window where it seemed like we were going to lose some big players only for us to retain, and combined with the planned protest against our owners it really did feel like an electric atmosphere for the first time in a while.
The defeat was a very humbling reminder that there isn’t a great deal of difference between any of the sides in the league. We’re going to have to be a lot more resilient than we showed here.
The problem to me seemed to be that, rightly or wrongly, down to sickness or otherwise, we prepared for totally the wrong game.
We expected Huddersfield to come and park the bus. They didn’t. They pressed us high, battled us in the middle and attacked us with clipped balls in behind. If they had half a chance to cross it they did so.
We just couldn’t find that spark and although we had some nearly moments, our final choice was poor or we didn’t take enough risks.
Huddersfield’s opener was probably deserved but it looked to me like someone should’ve got out there much quicker to block and Palmer was too easily beaten although I’ve not seen it back.
We got more of the play after that and you could see patterns we’d worked on but nothing came off. The most frustrating thing for me was Wallace constantly running inside as a striker when, in the 4-2-3-1 we were playing and a goal down, the width was crucial. It meant often we had to come back from that side and start again. As it happens he also had a stinker but he’s not being played to his strengths and looks a bit lost.
In the end it took a lapse in concentration from Huddersfield for us to equalise. They bombed on in the second half and, after winning it cack quickly and feeding it to BTA his clever spin left him running at goal with a defender chasing him. It was a perfect pass to Swift who made the touches and finish look easier than they were.
With a bit of momentum we felt like the game was there for the taking. Sarmiento for Wallace was absolutely the right call but Bartley for Pieters, maybe due to injury, did make us shuffle our shape a bit.
We hugged and puffed through some more minutes without creating a clear chance although we played some nice stuff and every now and again Huddersfield broke forward to remind us how ropey we are at the back.
The final set of subs from Corberan arguable weakened us a bit early. BTA for Maja, Yok for Chalobah, Molumby for Grady. Understandable in isolation but I’d have found a way to keep BTA on the pitch and I still don’t get withdrawn if Yok. He’ll only be fit enough if he plays through. Grady for Molumby was brave… really going for it. Swift and Chalobah in centre midfield!
Sarmiento, Swift, Maja and Grady (in the role we played him) were effectively all variations of the same false 9 - so we were a little unbalanced and I’d have preferred BTA still on the pitch over one of them.
And after Sarmiento and Maja waltzed through their back line deep into injury time, had Maja finished CC would’ve looked a genius. Instead, his effort was well saved and then we allowed Huddersfield to hoof it up the pitch and score a very basic goal. I’ve not seen it again but I recall Chalobah getting rolled way too easily out wide right instead of mopping up, nobody tracking back, a deep cross being controlled under no pressure at the back stick and another near post finish that Palmer should’ve stopped.
I thought the result was a bit harsh. We just about deserved a point, didn’t deserve to win and Huddersfield played their game to our weakness - a very very soft underbelly. We’ve got to sort that out and there really should be enough in the squad to get some clean sheets.
A missed opportunity but also a harsh reality check. It’s going to be a tough old season.
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