Date: 29th December 2010 at 1:36pm
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Guest reviewer sesameseed looks back at the West Brom game.

ue to festive family commitments, there was no trip to t’Reebok for me. Instead, I spent a vaguely hung over afternoon with Jeff Stelling and his merry men.

Intermittent match updates seemed to suggest we were under the cosh for most of the first half whilst carving out the odd chance at the other end. Then, as half time approached, the deadlock was broken, Matt Taylor finding the back of the net for the first time since April.

So, nerves settled, I expected a more comfortable second half, but by all accounts the pattern remained the same. The Baggies were creating, and squandering, chances with the hosts only providing an occassional threat. Into the last 10 minutes and this armchair fan was getting nervous. The Whites hadn’t conceded yet, and we didn’t really do clean sheets. Then, back to the Reebok, expecting the worst. But no! Elmo had clinched the points, and the last few minutes could be spent winding the clock down.

What a relief, a cracking three points against a decent side and a clean sheet! So, later, after several hairs of the dog, I settled down for an evening of Football First with our site editor’s favourite, Sarah-Jane Mee. (ah! Sarah-Jane. ed.) The highlights seemed to echo the commentary from the afternoon, West Brom looking lively and creative whilst the Wanderers struggled to find their rhythm, much like the game at Sunderland. We were largely on the back foot, Jussi made a couple of smart saves, the impressive Brunt caused problems and Odemwingie looked like a striker who had just come back from injury, which he had.

Then out of the blue, a long punt down the middle, a flick on by Elmo, and a clever touch from Taylor into Chungy’s run. It seemed that a combination of keeper and defender had pushed Lee too wide, but he had the vision to cut the ball back for Taylor to prod home with his right foot, 1-0. Half time, a goal to the good, satisfactory.

It really was a case of more of the same after the break. The Baggies dominated, threatened and squandered in equal measure, the only difference being the Bolton team now had a lead to hold onto. After an hour, Steinsson was replaced by Ricketts. I’m not sure whether he was injured or just had enough of a tough afternoon against West Brom’s maurauding left back Tchoyi.

As the game went into the last fifteen minutes play started to get stretched and the visitors were leaving gaps at the back as they searched for an equaliser. Unlike the reluctant gardener, OC brought on Ivan & Sparky to search for a second and decisive goal. With five minutes left, fingernail chewing around the stadium was cancelled as a combination of skill, determination and luck saw Elmo drive through three challenges and into the box. Klasnic & Taylor were up in support and it was the mysteriously white-bearded Croatian that Elmo tried to find. A last ditch tackle saw the cross bounce back to the Swede who saw Carson had strayed from his near post and a low strike from a narrow angle sealed the three points and gave Elmo his ninth goal of the season.

There was just time left for Howard Webb to show some seasonal goodwill after Chris Brunt petulantly kicked the ball away after being booked for petulantly hacking down the Swedish goalscorer. He could have seen red, but Howard obviously didn’t fancy the paperwork with the outcome of the game being already decided.

A couple of well used phrases spring to mind in summing up the match, those being if you don’t take your chances at this level you will get punished (very true) and it’s a good sign when you play badly and win (also very true).

From the highlights I saw, I gave my man of the match vote to Matt Taylor. Despite the clean sheet, none of the back four stood out, so Taylor it is. Next up Chelski. We’re long overdue a good result against them and they’re looking shocking at the moment so I’ll dare to dream!

Finally, our thoughts go out to Tamir Cohen and his family at this difficult time.


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