WEST BROMWICH ALBION 4 CITY 0
Nationwide League Division 1
8th September 2001
scorers McInnes(10), Clement(pen 67 & 79), Dobie(83)
City Weaver, Dunne, Pearce, Howey, Edghill, Grant, Horlock, Tiatto, Granville, Goater, Huckerby – subs Dickov(64), Colosimo(77), Killen(unused), Murphy(unused), Wiekens(64)
West Brom Hoult, Sigurdsson, Butler, Gilchrist, Lyttle, A Chambers, McInnes, Appleton, Clement, Dichio, Roberts- sub J Chambers(?), Dobie(48), Taylor(69), Cummings(unused), Jensen(unused)
What The Press Said
Ten goals leaked in four games is simply not good enough. You don’t win titles or promotion with a defensive record like that.
The Blues were all slap and no dash at the Hawthorns and, most worry ingly of all, they seemed to lack the appetite for a fight.
That absence of steel is all the more perplexing when you consider the individuals on show, but it was, nonetheless, all too evident particularly in the first half when the Baggies did little more themselves than hustle, bustle and jostle.
What the Blues failed to remember, as they pushed short passes around without hurting the home side, is that they have to earn the right to play their football, something they palpably failed to do.
Keegan’s side were disjointed from the word go, the three central defenders seemed too deep, the wing backs too detached and intent on attacking, and there was little or no link between midfield and the other two departments. As for the strikers they never got a look in
Hopefully, this performance can be simply put down as a collective off-day. If so, then the manager’s post-match reaction may in time, seem a little too harsh.
“I don’t think the players we have got at the moment are good enough to get out of the division automatically,” blasted Keegan, who added that he still felt his squad would finish in the top six.
“‘The performance wasn’t good enough and the players know how I feel about it. What was said will stay in the dressing room unless one or two of them feel like ringing their agents. I felt sorry for the supporters, we brought 5,000 with us but we didn’t give them anything.”
Heartfelt words from the new boss, but when he reflects in the cold light of day perhaps he may feel as though he has been a little too pessimistic.
After all, he has two of the division’s most exciting attacking forces in Eyal Berkovic and Paulo Wanchope to recall, while Carlo Nash is awaiting his chance to reclaim the goalkeeper’s shirt. Shaun Wright-Phillips is another talent in the wings to be unleashed, seasoned Premiership and international star Alfie Haaland is yet to kick a ball this season and there is Paul Ritchie to come back from injury.
Suddenly the cupboard doesn’t look so bare after all.
The really nagging question is why a defence that at times coped reasonably well away from home in the Premiership has shipped in eight goals from three road trips this time around.
Is it the men or the method? Only time will tell.
Not that a much hungrier Albion side were complaining, for once skipper Derek McInnes had blasted them into a tenth-minute lead with a classically struck howitzer from the edge of the box, they never looked likely to surrender the spoils.
A weak Darren Huckerby header and shots from the two Dannys – Tiatto and Granville – were about all that the Blues could muster against their strong-tackling and uncompromising hosts.
Not that the home side were demonstrably better. They too showed an unerring willingness to give the ball away at the drop of a shoulder and with referee Graham Frankland happy to blow his whistle at every turn – there were five yellow cards in the first half – not to mention a linesman who didn’t seem able to differentiate between the colours of the shirts – this was a game that never really got going.
Indeed, had it not been for the atmosphere created by the two sets of fans it might already have been filed in the draw marked `total shambles’.
At 1-0 down just after the hour mark City were still, theoretically, in with a chance of snatching a point, but all that changed in the 66th minute when Albion substitute Scott Dobie backed into Richard Edghill, fell over and was awarded a more than fortunate penalty
Neil Clement, whose left foot reminded onlookers of Stuart Pearce, drilled home the spot kick and that was that.
What little bit of life remained in City ranks drained away and Albion rubbed their noses in it.
After an unnecessary foul by Gerard Wiekens on the edge of the box, Clement powered home a free-kick into the top corner and then the promising Dobie held off a series of half-hearted challenges to stroll into the area and make it 4-0 in the 82nd minute. –
That was the signal for a dash to the exits at one end of the ground and a cheeky suggestion, from the other end, that Keegan should do the same. He won’t, but don’t bet against some of his present squad going that way if they don’t show a massive improvement, starting at Notts County.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE