Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday October 4 2008
It`s only just turned October and already we`re looking anxiously over our shoulders.
We`re two points off the relegation zone; below us are two clubs, Spurs and Newcastle who won`t be in a crisis for ever, two clubs who will overhaul us once they get their backsides sorted out.
Our promising start has all but been forgotten, we`re on a roll, a roll of four defeats in all competitions and suddenly the prospect of a two week break between games doesn`t look so enticing.
Instead of relaxing after a win, we`ve lost and the visit of Sunderland two weeks today takes on a whole new significance.
So what went wrong?
How come we slipped to defeat at a venue, when the fixtures were announced, we`d be hoping to win at. Looking at the possession statistics, we had so much more of the ball, so why haven`t we capitalised upon it? Are we lacking bite, is it a lack of guile to break teams down or are we just plain unlucky?
Forced to play without the suspended Andrew Johnson, Roy Hodgson chose to play Clint Dempsey, a player who, last season, had been our joint top scorer.
The first half was fairly equal, Bednar had the first chance but chose to dilly-dally and swap feet before striking a shot straight at Schwarzer. Bullard then saw his free kick, from just outside the area; fly inches over the bar as the sides vied for that crucial opening goal.
Zoltan Gera, playing against his former side, then saw Dempsey tee him up but his shot, just like Bullard`s free kick, went inches the wrong side of the woodwork, this time the post. Bullard then tried a shot from distance but it went straight down the keepers` throat.
Dempsey peppered a few shot towards goal and we looked to be on top. West Brom had a half chance but Miller headed wide when well placed, half-time and all square, all to play for.
The second half saw West Brom emerge with more purpose, Tony Mowbray had obviously geed them up and going forward they looked more of a threat. Zuiverloon should have done better with a header that hit the outside of the post before, just on the hour mark; the home side got that opening goal.
Sadly, it was s sloppy goal to concede. A corner had been conceded and when the ball dropped into our six yard box and bounced, Bednar swooped to score.
The fight back was now in, a chance to rescue something. Olsson got away with not giving away a penalty before Dempsey met a ball from Bullard only to see his effort go high and wide.
West Brom knew that a second goal would clinch matters and Schwarzer did well to save from Koran. Bednar then chanced his arm from an outrageously long way out and Schwarzer was relieved to see the ball hit the top of his cross bar.
There was one last chance to salvage something, Ki-Hyeon (on for Demspey) provided a great pass for Davies but he put it over from close range.
It`s time to get real, it`s time to knuckle down and admit it`s going to be a long slog again, or am I being to dramatical?
Date:Saturday October 4 2008
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