West Bromwich Albion

Teams /  England  / West Bromwich Albion 
West Bromwich Albion have 164 Fans
 
 
 
 
West Brom pay double penalty as Stoke depress their fortunes further
Joe Lovejoy at The Hawthorns - 3 years ago

Stoke are not the sophisticates' cup of Earl Grey – especially after a week in which England were outclassed playing in their attritional fashion – but manager Tony Pulis will never apologise for that and his combative scrappers are on the rise again after recording three successive league wins at top level for the first time in 26 years.

West Brom, in contrast, try to play The Beautiful Game, but are suffering for it to such an extent that their manager, Roberto di Matteo, wants to "win ugly." He said: "I don't want my team to be pretty, I want to win games, and if we need to do it playing a certain way, that's not a problem for me. There are different ways to win and styles can be secondary."

Everybody at The Hawthorns, management included, accepts that the end will now justify any means after a miserable return of one point from the past five matches.

If Stoke were cast in England's image today, West Brom were the poor man's France, with one vital exception. They had no Karim Benzema to finish off some promising approach work and no Samir Nasri to supply the front men with penetrative accuracy.

In that respect, Giles Barnes, promoted in place of the injured Chris Brunt, remains a frustrating enigma, working his way into good positions only to cross the ball like Mr Magoo. With such service, Albion's find of the season, Peter Odemwingie, was condemned to starvation rations.

Remarkably, they have now failed to beat the men from the Potteries in their past 26 meetings.

After a dire first half, in which neither goalkeeper was required to make a save, a dour scrap finally improved in the second period. Matthew Etherington broke the tedious deadlock after 54 minutes with his first goal of the season, from the penalty spot, after Scott Carson had charged almost to the 18-yard line to bring down Kenwyne Jones at a time when – with defenders well placed – his rash intervention was unnecessary.

Albion were powder puff until Cameroon's Somen Tchoyi, on as substitute, brought a couple of decent saves from Asmir Begovic, but, for the most part Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross were untroubled at centre-back for Stoke, who transformed a hard-earned win into a convincing one with two goals in the last five minutes.

Striker Jon Walters, who came on as substitute for Etherington with 10 minutes to play, scored both of them, tucking away a second penalty in the 85th minute after Simon Cox's foul on Dean Whitehead, then beating Carson – who parried his initial shot – at the second attempt after an inviting left-wing centre from Jones.

Pulis said: "I always intended to bring Jon on because he made his debut for the Republic of Ireland in midweek, and that gave him a big boost."

Di Matteo, implausibly, disputed both penalties, but Pulis said: "We have had three in our past 92 matches and I'm told Arsenal have had nine this season, so I think we are due a few."

Of his team's improvement, he added: "We had been on a bad run of four successive defeats, now we have had three straight wins in the top division for the first time since 1984, so we are moving in the right direction."

Pulis's only concern last night was the hamstring injury that forced off midfielder Jermain Pennant after just 11 minutes.

THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICTJOHN BRADSHAW, Observer reader We're in a real battle now. Losing at home to Stoke says a lot about where we're headed. We didn't play that badly – the problem was the attitude and set-up: we were mostly defensive and negative, lacked self-belief and couldn't deliver any decent forward balls. Scharner was awful, Carson had a shocker and everyone else was pretty average. There's a lot of hard work ahead of us if we're going to turn this round. I never thought I'd look up to them, but we could learn a lot from the way Stoke approached it: their players aren't better than ours, but their belief and confidence in their system was obvious.

The fan's player ratings Carson 4; Jara 5, Tamas 5, Ibáñez 5, Cech 5; Scharner 3, Mulumbu 5 (Dorrans 80); Barnes 5 (Tchoyi 66 5), Morrison 5 (Cox 56 4), Thomas 5; Odemwingie 5

ROBERT HOLLOWAY, Observer reader We have a really good record against West Brom over the years, but this match was a lot closer than the score shows. Even five minutes from time, before we scored our second goal, it was in the balance and West Brom were attacking. I would still have taken a point at that stage. But then we got a lucky penalty – we had a clear view of it and it looked like a normal tussle for the ball – and that killed the game off. Walters sealed the game for us right at the end. My ambition for the season is just to stay up. We seem to be collecting our results in batches this season, and we have now won three in a row.

The fan's player ratings Begovic 7; Wilkinson 7, Huth 8, Shawcross 8, Collins 7; Pennant 7 (Tuncay 11 6), Whitehead 7, Delap 7, Etherington 6 (Walters 79 8); Fuller 7 (Wilson 83 6), Jones 7

To take part in the Fans' Verdict, email sport@observer.co.uk

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Share your thoughts
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Newspapers
 
Blogs
 
Podcasts
 
David Silva a doubt for visit of West Bromwich Albion Manchester City trail Liverpool by nine pointsManuel Pellegrini believes Samir Nasri can provide the x-factor in Manchester City's bid to stay in  ...
west-bromwich-albion - 9 hours ago
Manchester City playmaker David Silva is a doubt for the Barclays Premier League clash with West Brom due to an ankle problem.
West Brom manager Pepe Mel does not believe one win will be enough to ensure his side safety from relegation this season.
west-bromwich-albion - 10 hours ago
West Brom boss Pepe Mel is studying the Barclays Premier League table and fixtures list as much as any manager as he tries to assess his side's prospects of
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has backed his West Brom counterpart Pepe Mel to be a success in English football.
west-bromwich-albion - 11 hours ago
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has backed his West Brom counterpart Pepe Mel to be a success in English football.
Preview followed by live coverage of Monday's Premier League game between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion.
The Etihad Stadium outfit dropped points against Sunderland, damaging their title tilt, and take on Pepe Mel's Baggies without a host of first-team stars, including Yaya Toure
West Brom boss Pepe Mel believes his team must go into Monday's match with Manchester City believing they can take all three points.
West Brom head coach Pepe Mel is trying to be a "sporting mentor" for Albion striker Saido Berahino.
West Brom head coach Pepe Mel is trying to be a "sporting mentor" for Albion striker Saido Berahino.
City seen as favourites due to style of play says manager 'Team's spirits hit by draw with Sunderland'Manuel Pellegrini has admitted he will find it frustrating should Manchester City not win the titl ...
By the time West Bromwich Albion arrive at the Etihad Stadium on Monday evening, Manchester City will hope that both Sunderland and Norwich City have done them a big favour by defeating their title ri ...
Manchester City playmaker David Silva is a doubt for Monday's Barclays Premier League clash with West Brom due to an ankle problem.
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is still sweating on the fitness of David Silva ahead of Monday's Barclays Premier League home clash with West Brom and
Read a full match preview of the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad on Monday April 21, 2014, kick-off 20.00 (BST)
West Brom defender Jonas Olsson and midfielder James Morrison are doubts for Monday's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Manager Pepe Mel has claimed it is 'impossible' for West Bromwich Albion to be relegated from the Premier League.
West Brom boss Pepe Mel has been speaking to his players about maintaining their self-belief in matches after they threw away another healthy lead last weekend.
West Brom's British Asian duo Adil and Samir Nabi have got the potential to take the Premier League by storm in the coming years, according to one of the club's academy coaches.

Latest Photo Galleries

Roberto Di Matteo
3 years ago
The West Brom manager stars as Dr Evil, Frank Sidebottom and in some second-rate TV drama
Sir Bobby Robson's career in pictures
4 years ago
Following Sir Bobby Robson's death at the age of 76, we look back on the former England and Newcastle manager's life in football
Tony Mowbray
5 years ago
The West Brom manager as Zebedee, Ivan Drago and a rather jaunty hat
   
Kick4Life - changing lives through football