Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 - West Bromwich Albion 1
Albion celebrated Premiership survival with an afternoon of charity work at the Molineux. With Chris Brunt still injured and Paul Scharner suspended, they played a four man midfield with Somen Tchoyi on right wing and Simon Cox playing behind Peter Odemwingie.
Their first gift came after a quarter of an hour when Steven Fletcher was given yards of space to fire home from a corner after Carson had teased the home side by saving a Jamie O'Hara free kick. The generous Baggies defenders did exactly the same thing on the half hour mark, only this time it was Adlene Guedioura who was handed a close range finish on a plate. Finally, two minutes after half time Abdoulaye Meite made sure of the three points for Wolves when he got the deftest of touches on Kevin Foley's forward pass to play Fletcher through one-on-one with Carson for his second goal.
Guedioura then rewarded Albion's generosity by bundling over Jerome Thomas in the box, allowing Peter Odemwingie to score from the spot, equal Bomber Brown's record of scoring in five consecutive games and send everyone home happy - except, perhaps, Bomber himself.
Albion conceded two goals in the first half against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux and were three down shortly after the break. A more spirited performance followed, but despite pulling a goal back, there was no miraculous comeback this time.
Jerome Thomas returned from injury, but Steven Reid and Chris Brunt were joined on the sidelines by the suspended Paul Scharner. Somen Tchoyi was a surprise starter, with Carlos Vela returning to the bench.
Results on Saturday meant that the Baggies were mathematically safe from relegation. Wolves, still very much in peril, responded with a determined start, a mixture of heavy tackles and chasing down every ball. The referee was surprisingly lenient with them, but then penalised Olsson for an innocuous challenge on Ward. O?Hara floated the free kick, from the edge of the area, towards the far top corner and Scott Carson did well to tip the shot around the post. It was a short reprieve, for the home side took the lead from the 15th minute corner. Hunt put the ball into the danger zone where it was chested into the path of Fletcher who couldn?t miss. Wolves exploited the lack of height in the Albion defence again in the 28th minute. This time Hunt hit his left wing corner long and the ball was headed back across the six yard box for Guedioura to thump home. The Baggies might even have conceded from a third corner, but when O?Hara played the ball in from the opposite flank, Fletcher outjumped the defence but headed wide. There was a glimmer of hope in first half stoppage time, when, following a spell of possession, Mulumbu fed Tchoyi and he played the ball down the line for Peter Odemwingie. The Nigerian international twisted past two defenders before hitting a fierce drive which beat Hennessey but swerved inches wide of the far upright.
In the 47th minute, it seemed Albion were dead and buried after a horrendous error. Foley?s hit and hope ball down the middle should have been cut out by Meite, but he allowed it to run on to Fletcher, who remained cool to beat the stranded Carson. Only then did Albion?s fighting spirit kick in. In the 55th minute, Peter Odemwingie created an opportunity and scored from the resultant penalty. He cut in along the right touchline and hit a fierce low cross, a defender intercepted, but the ball ran loose to Jerome Thomas who was brought down by Guedioura. It was a no nonsense penalty, which the Nigerian converted with ease, his fifth goal in five games. Twice inside the next ten minutes Albion came desperately close to scoring again. First James Morrison crossed into the box and Simon Cox, on the turn, whipped in a shot which looked certain to beat Hennessey, until he flung himself to his left to push clear. Then came a sparkling move. Youssouf Mulumbu fed Somen Tchoyi and he made a strong diagonal run before slipping a perfect ball through to Jerome Thomas. The winger outpaced his marker, but his shot rebounded from the crossbar. Mulumbu and Tchoyi were involved again, when from a partially cleared corner, the former whipped in a cross and the latter headed over when he should at least have hit the target. Roy Hodgson gambled by bringing on three more strikers, making five on the field in total. In rare attacks Wolves could have extended the lead; Hunt breaking through and firing wide and Ebanks-Blake cutting inside and forcing Carson to save at his near post. However, such was Albion?s momentum that Wolves fans couldn?t relax until the final whistle.
We played very poorly in the first half and although I can agree that early on Wolves wanted it more, I don?t buy the ?the team were already on the beach? theory. It?s more to do with personnel, Jara and Morrison are not as well suited to a physical battle or defending set pieces as Reid and Scharner and without Brunt (and Morrison) to link defence and attack it?s not surprising we struggled going forward. It didn?t help that marking was non existent at those first half corners. We were much improved after the break and came very close to a second goal which would have made things interesting. The choice of man-of-the-match again rests with three players, Olsson, Mulumbu and Odemwingie. This time I?ve picked Peter Odemwingie, for his flair and inventiveness, just ahead of the influential and versatile Youssouf Mulumbu.
ALBION FORMRATE: DISAPPOINTING
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: PETER ODEMWINGIE
Albion slip to 13th but are still top West Midlands Club. We?re a point better off than Villa (14th), four ahead of Blues (16th) and six clear of Wolves (17th).
OUR HISTORY - BAGGIES AWAY TO WOLVES
Albion supporters can take some consolation in that this defeat is only the third we?ve suffered against Wolves in the past fourteen years; over nineteen games (16 League, 2 Play-offs and 1 FA Cup), we?ve won 10 and drawn 6. Prior to this weekend, we?d won four of the last five fixtures at Molineux. The last top flight match there, in 1983/84 was a 0-0 draw, but in the previous fixture on Saturday 1st May 1982 we won 2-1. Our team was: Godden, Batson, Cowdrill, Bennett, Wile, Robertson, Zondervan (Monaghan), A Brown, Regis, Owen, Mackenzie and the scorers were Cyrille Regis and substitute Derek Monaghan. In both those seasons the Baggies narrowly avoided relegation and Wolves went down. In League competition each club has now won 52 of the 144 matches, but the overall competitive record remains in our favour, played 158, won 62, drawn 43, lost 53, goals for 247, against 239.
Gutted about today. Can accept losing a local derby but not by gifting three goals to them and not turning up in the first half. I think our players were already sipping cocktails on the beach.
Second half I thought we were well on top and with a bit of luck could have got a point. But we just didn't look threatening enough in the final third.
However, they are NOT safe yet and may get the smug smiles wiped from their faces.
After listening to this debacle on the radio & suffering the highlights(!!) on MOD, I can only say that if RH is to stay as Manager he has some serious sorting to do.
If you look at the depth & quality of our lot it is obvious that many of them are not up to premier standard & keeping them will only mean struggling again next season. First priority should be a completely new defence which despite umpteen permutations has been ineffective all season & our major weakness. He then needs to rid us of all these fringe players, the likes of Fortune, Vela, Miller (why in the hell is he back!!) Pablo, Tamas et al.
Sulky Brunt should never be captain again though he is an essential player his attitude is hardly inspirational. We will be lucky to hold on to PO who must be so despondent seeing his heroic efforts up front frittered away by our pathetic defending. Thomas too is likely to be listening to offers.
Come on Roy, start banging on the Chairman's door!
What a difference a game makes! A fairly poor performance, especially in the first half when the whole of the defence never showed up at all. BUT let's not forget how far we have come in such a short amount of time - I doubt that most people would have seen us safe with three games to go a while ago. We certainly won't be the only team that take their foot off the gas now that we are safe, albeit it's extremely frustrating when one of those games is against a bitter rival. Sure, we need to tighten up in a few positions, but I am fairly confident of our team's prospects in the future, and one stinking end of season result is not going to change my opinion. This has been a GREAT season...
..but no doubt the general opinion will be that Hodgson got it all wrong, and the players are not fit to wear the shirts, and that we have a divine right to beat rubbish like the Wolves every week (yawn). :-/
Couchcritic said "Sulky Brunt should never be captain again though he is an essential player his attitude is hardly inspirational."
Where's the logic in that- I didn't notice Brunt sulking yesterday - aha - someone just told me he wasn't playing yesterday. Super captain(?) Olsson was valiantly leading the merry Albion to another epic victory.
I do know Brunt was captain and played a major part in taking vital relegation avoiding points vs Birmingham, Liverpool, Arsenal, Sunderland and Spurs.
Deeds speak louder than opinions.
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