West Bromwich Albion 0 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
"There will now be a short intermission"
Whilst this game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, some of those wrong reasons will not be as apparent to those who don't follow the Albion.
For those who don't, then in essence, this was a typical Albion away performance that we sadly, for some reason, chose to bring home at just the wrong time and against just the wrong opposition.
A very bright start had us pushing high up the pitch down both sides and saw two good headed chances not really troubling the keeper before ten minutes had passed.
Slightly oddly for me, given that Pipa has been the left-wing cover of choice for a few games now, with no obvious left-winger to call on, Corberan chose to move Swift out of his number ten role, whilst putting Chalobah in as the creative link behind the striker. There must also have been a slight temptation to start Fellows on the left, so as to leave Swift in the middle but, if there was, it was resisted.
Along with Jonathon and Grant, the three of us packing out an almost deserted back bar in the Inglewood, the one room which was able to display the Paramount+ feed, I was screaming at the TV for a pen in the twenty-second minute after great some work from Wallace played in Swift at the near post, and his shot looked to have hit Dawson (panto villain for the day: Boo!) on the arm. Replays, though, suggested he'd got his arm far enough away from his body for it to not only be in an un-natural position but for the ball to go be able to between it and his body after it hit his side.
Albion had been the better side to the extent that Wolves' first real threat came on the half-hour as a pull-back from our right had Kipre stretching to clear, from inside the six-yard-box, with the ball going out for a corner, although it's trajectory would have initially raised a few heart rates. and then came the next part of the away performance reprise.
Dawson miscued a headed clearance to concede a corner, from which Albion looked to curl it out to an unmarked Wallace at the top of the box, however the ball was intercepted and suddenly Wolves were breaking two-on-two, with Townsend and Swift trying to get back. The pass to Neto saw him going down the inside-left channel but instead of being shepherded away from the goal, he was allowed to cut back inside and, despite Swift getting half a tackle in, he found himself at the top of our box, from where he was able to stroke the ball to the left of Griffiths' dive and into the net for a lead which the away side would take into the break.
Just after 50 minutes, Swift galloped away down the left but, in coming inside, almost lost control but then saw the ball come back to Mowatt, whose lovely cross was nodded back across the six-yard box with BTA looking to get onto the end of it but only going to ground under a challenge right in front of the Brummie, Again the back bar echoed the screams for a pen, but once again, replays suggested that it wasn't. Still, the chance suggested, as have the early stages of the second half of a few away games, that the Albion, despite being behind, weren't out of it yet.
We had been joined by another Albion by the time Fellows did come on for Chalobah, which did allow Swift to move inside, and, just four minutes after coming on, Fellows would pull a ball back to BTA, in space and central, on the edge of the box, but his shot ended closer to the roof of the BRE than to the crossbar, however, five minutes after that, Swift, now playing through the middle, created space for himself to get off a shot from the edge of the box that was a damn sight closer.
Two minutes later though and Albion's press seemed to cause Wolves to just knock it long, however an attacker was left to run into acres of space behind Bartley and from a tight angle threaded the ball into the net.
Cue nearly thirty-five minutes of, let's just say, "a break in play", albeit a break that will be what most people will remember of the game, before play would effectively resume from the 78th minute, with a triple substitution seeing Bartley being replaced by Caleb Taylor, Pieters on for Kipre, and Pipa coming on at left back in place of Townsend, although it looked as though Yokuslu had dropped back into the middle of Taylor and Pieters in a back three.
Not sure what swapping three defenders at 2-0 down says, other than to say that we didn't really have anyone but defenders on the bench, although with the TV clock showing 82 minutes gone (although if you don't stop it, it should have been showing 116-or-so) BTA would outmuscle Dawson on the right but then fail pick out the player on the edge of the box and see his pass to the man level with him cut out.
Fellows continued to try and make an impact with a couple of darts down the left as eighty-five passed and although Albion would have another couple of half-chances to pull one back, as the nominal ninety passed, Griffiths would have spare the blushes of his all new defensive line, after we got caught high and square again, the youngster diving to his right to tip the resulting cross-shot away.
Considering there'd been two Wolves' substitution and that we'd made four, we can only assume that some of what should have been, at least, three minutes of "stoppage" time somehow got rolled into that "break in play", as the ref blew up after just two extra minutes.
As I noted at the start, someone who hadn't seen much of us might have wondered how a side that looked as good as we did for as much of the game ended up losing 2-0, whereas anyone who has seen us will know that looking good but not scoring is pretty much where we're at, or at least where we've been, on many of our travels.
I didn't have a ticket for the game so had to watch on TV, consequently I'm not in any position to comment on the nonsense that went on off the pitch apart from saying that it wasn't a great look and I don't think it can help at all with our ongoing search for new ownership.
As far as the game was concerned I didn't think there was much to choose between the two sides and if we could have taken one of the two or three gilt edged chances we had before their first goal it could have been a very different outcome. I thought it was an "interesting" call to start the young keeper and although he's getting a bit of stick around the second goal I thought in general he had a fairly decent game.
It was the same as a lot of our games this season, we looked comfortable enough with the ball but struggled to find the final ball and when we did our finishing was poor. Then when we get a bit stretched we get done on the break with one long ball. Apart from the finishing Wolves looked no better than us.
Personally I think we could be a bit more direct at times and risk balls forward quicker, BTA seems to make lots of runs for nothing but I trust in Corberan's judgement and given time and the resources I can only see us getting better.
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