Coventry City 0 - West Bromwich Albion 4
A Game of Two Halves
Albion were forced into a few changes by the injuries to Kevin Phillips and Martin Albrechtsen. Ishmael Miller started alone up front with Filipe Teixeira behind him, and Leon Barnett was recalled to partner Bostjan Cesar in the centre of defence.
Ten minutes into the game, and some way off the ball, Coventry striker and key danger man Michael Mifsud jumped in with his elbow into Carl Hoefkens, knocking the defender flying and - after what seemed a great deal of discussion between the match officials - earning himself a red card.
Bostjan Cesar picked up a booking in the 27th minute. James Morrison was stretchered off on 35 minutes after appearing to jump up and twist his leg on landing, and was replaced by Brunt.
Filipe Teixeira produced pretty well Albion's only shot on goal towards the end of the first half but it was tipped over the bar. Half time 0-0 with Albion failing to take control of the game despite having the extra man.
However, they took the lead early in the second half when a neat ball from Zoltan Gera put Paul Robinson through on goal and the defender chipped the ball neatly over the Coventry keeper. One minute and 36 seconds later, Ishmael Miller brought the ball to the left hand edge of the 6 yard box, but a tackle on him by a Coventry defender left Filipe Teixeira with a simple finish from close range to double the lead.
With Albion dominating the second half, Filipe Teixeira scored his second goal after twisting and turning in the box before shooting across the keeper and inside the left hand post from near the penalty spot. Roman Bednar replaced Miller, but Albion were content to keep the ball in midfield and defence until the start of added time when Filipe Teixeira turned provider and crossed to Koren, unmarked in front of goal, to give him a simple finish for Albions fourth.
Three points put Albion back into second place, six points behind Watford and two clear of Charlton in 3rd.
Albion?s stunning best away win of the season against Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena on Monday night, came thanks to four second half goals after the home side were reduced to ten men early in the game.
There were two enforced changes to the starting eleven. Leon Barnett returned to the defence in place of the injured Martin Albrechtsen and Tony Mowbray reintroduced James Morrison to midfield, with Felipe Teixeira pushing forward to compensate for the absent Kevin Phillips, in a 4-5-1 formation.
Albion made a bright start and threatened when Ishmael Miller was sent clear down the right and hit a low shot into the side netting. There was an extraordinary incident in the 11th minute. Carl Hoefkens was about to head an innocuous ball clear when striker Mifsud felled him with straight elbow. The referee consulted all his colleagues then took the offender across the width of the pitch to the tunnel before showing him the red card. Surprisingly the reshaped home side had the better of the remainder of the first half during which the Baggies lost James Morrison to injury. Our only significant attempt on goal before the break was a wonderfully flighted shot from Felipe Teixeira which the keeper Konstantopoulos tipped over the bar.
Iain Dowie brought on a second striker for the second half which unarguably gave Albion more freedom to play their passing game. The breakthrough came in the 56th minute in a move started and finished by Paul Robinson. He played the ball inside to Robert Koren who helped it on to Zoltan Gera. The full back was sprinting through the Coventry defence and Gera found him with a pinpoint pass which Robbo clipped over the keeper for a delightful goal. The large Baggies contingent was still celebrating when in the 57th minute the lead was doubled. Ishmael Miller cut in from the left and when he was impeded, Felipe Teixeira was quickest to react, latching onto the loose ball to fire home from close range. We had to wait until the 73rd minute for the next goal, but it was worth it. Robert Koren fed Felipe Teixeira, inside the penalty area, but surrounded by four defenders. There seemed little on, however the Portuguese favourite found space by beating the closest man twice, then in one movement twisted past another defender before firing low just inside the far left hand post. The Baggies were now in complete control as they passed the ball around with ease. Teixeira went in search of a hat-trick but his shot from a narrow angle was beaten out by the keeper. Then, unselfishly, in the 88th minute, he set up the fourth and final goal. Zoltan Gera played the ball inside the full back to Teixeira as he raced clear down the right, but this time when the keeper came out, he simply pulled the ball back across the edge of the six yard box leaving Robert Koren with the simple task of tapping home.
This was an outstanding result. Albion took full advantage of the extra man to dominate the second half. The sending-off was controversial, not because there was any doubt, TV showed the incident clearly, but because there was a strong suspicion that the ref may have received advice from the fourth official after he?d reviewed the TV evidence. The win was enough to take Albion back to the second promotion place.
Felipe Teixeira deserves man-of-the-match for a complete performance, but not far behind was Paul Robinson who gave another determined display. The match was won in midfield, with Zoltan Gera in particular and Jonathan Greening and Robert Koren all making valuable contributions. In defence Bostjan Cesar was solid as a rock when Coventry threatened before the break. Credit too to Tony Mowbray who got tactics and personnel exactly right, both initially and when it was necessary to bring on a substitute and for saying the right things at half-time to shake the team out of their complacency.
There are very few clubs against whom Albion have a better record than Coventry City, so to record our best ever away win in any competition against them, was quite an achievement. What?s more we?ve won six of our last seven encounters with the Sky Blues, during which we?ve netted fifteen times to their once! The chant ?can we play you every week? can seldom have been more appropriate.
ALBION FORMRATE: BRILLIANT but only after half-time
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: FELIPE TEIXEIRA
Perth (Western Australia) Baggie:
Up at 4.30 after suffering 38* heat during the night and very little sleep to watch the game.
What can one say about the first half? At time of writing this, I wish I had slept for another 45 minutes! Afetr the red card for Misduf, Albion could do nothing right. Sloppy passes and the long ball forward for Miller to chase, with no effective support from our midfield. Coventry, give them their due, defended well and cut down options and were the better team.
I don't know what TM said to them at half-time but as he said in the post match interview it couldn't be repeated!!
Two goals in 90 seconds sealed the game. Albion started with movement down the left hand side following a quick throw in. Robbo ran into space and dinked it over the city goalkeeper. This was followed by a forceful run by Miller into the box and then Tex's poaching goal that gave us the belief and control that was previously missing.
His second was an adept piece of footballing skill as he ran round the city defence and created the space he needed to place the ball into the corner. Game over.
However, Gera and Tex linked up for another flowing movement for Koren to add to the tally. It was worth getting up for, even if I am out on my feet now at 12 midday Perth time!
As others have said it was a classic game of two halves really. It was a fairly quiet start until Misfud, inexplicably, decided to take out Hoefkins with an elbow leaving the referee with absolutely no choice whatsoever. Dowie should be credited for being a manager in the modern game who talks the truth- saying straight after that it was a crazy challenge and there were no complaints.
As ever, the ten men seemed to pull together where as we really struggled to get out of the blocks. Firstly, their effort in running and closing us down was partly the cause but we also looked disjointed with Gera wide left and Tex playing miles away from Miller when he was supposed to be just off him. To their credit despite Coventry being very physical we stuck to our principles and kept trying to pass it although we were rushed into mistakes and the odd pointless long ball. With about ten minutes before the break to go Gera and Morrison switched and we looked more balanced. We started to work the possession better and created a couple of openings.
The curse of the knee injury struck again when Morrison got his boot stuck in the turf. The slow motion replay wasn't the prettiest and it doesn't look good. A real shame for the lad, who was getting better with every game and really looks a snip to me at 1.5 million. We've benefitted from his balance, pace and touch in the last few games so let's hope it isn't too bad. Chris Brunt came on and, thankfully, stayed on the left hand side and the game rolled on until half time.
At the break a lot has been made of what Mowbray said but I think the decision made by Dowie, to bring on Kyle and keep two up front and losing a man in midfield had a far bigger impact.
A kind of understandable decision given that we have looked dodgy in the air from set plays and the long ball (although not since Cesar has been introduced) but one I thought helped us more than them.
It was basically 5 on 3 through the middle in the second half. You could never really work out whether it was Gera off Miller or Tex off Miller or sometimes both of them but we were fluid and as we passed the ball around the Coventry players lost their legs - Greening and Koren once again footballing them to death in the middle of the park.
The goal was a terrific move, Robbo supporting well and then being picked out by an inch perfect pass weighted so well that he didn't need a first touch. To be fair he still had it all to do but made it look very easy in chipping it to the far corner.
Moments later the quieter than normal Miller tried to ram-raid his way through after an intelligent quick pass from Brunt. He was blocked off but Tex, who in the first half had been more of a Felipe Flop (sorry, that is awful) showed great sharpness to nip in and steal a goal.
It was over as a contest from then on but Tex (this time through the centre) scored a great solo goal twisting and turning using both feet to control the ball a swivel before arrowing his shot into the bottom corner from inside the box.
Bednar came on to give Miller a two week break going into the Wolves game and looked a handful to be fair to him. He linked play well, was strong and was also unlucky not to earn a pen when his clever flick past a defender was blocked by a trailing arm. At nil-nil it might have been given.
The icing on the cake came with another great pass from Gera (central this time) playing in Tex (wide right this time) who squared for Koren (busting a gut from the centre in the 93rd minute to get there) for a tap in.
Overall our class shone in the end. Credit to Mowbray must be given in his transfer dealings over the Summer. Cesar looks the real deal, Koren and Tex look like we've robbed their respective clubs. Hoefkins is very assured, Morrison looks a snip, Brunt and Barnett (the "big money" signings) both had good games and are contributing with plenty still to come and I think he is getting the very best out of Greening. Macdonald can count himself unlucky not to be involved given his performances in the stiffs and cameo sub roles. I would say there is only Beattie who is struggling to live up to his price tag at the moment. With Phillips out he might get another chance so let's give him the benefit of the doubt and get behind him - booing him won't do him or us any favours.
Let's hope there isn't a post internationals hangover for Cesar, Koren, Gera & Co and we teach the Wolves a proper footballing lesson.
From sh**! to sublime, I suppose, is the best summary of a game that will be best remembered as Cov stuffed in the first ten minutes by Conrad's hero Misfud and how long would it be before we bloody woke up and scored. For the football fan hoping to catch a spectacle (we really are the Arsenal of the Championship when we get going and Cov were, prior to this, fifth and resurgent) it was destroyed from that point on really. But of course we're always crap on the telly despite the build up (last time we were any good? Discuss) and our lack of ability to get the ball down and play against ten men was as bizarre as Misfud's challenge. There is no previous between him and Hoffy so I can only put it down to Dowie telling him he's got to lose the mighty mouse tag and get a bit more physical which he took too literally. Interesting that Hoffy said Misfud had already given him a few taps inside the first ten minutes cos there was certainly nothing the other way around. But it was a demonic and clearly intentional challenge from an apparently mild mannered boy who likes to get on with his football and an obvious straight red card even on first sight let alone the TV replays which actually might lead to him getting more than three games out a la Ben Thatcher.
We'd looked fast asleep before it and continued in even worse vein after. Instead of moving the ball around, especially wide, we continued to fidget and bodgit with too many balls hit into impossible positions in tight areas that were never going to come off. Only one, from Tex, that was just blocked almost came off. Crap, basically and hard as Coventry worked and credit to them for that they never looked like they would blow our house down either (like Kev I don't see possession as threat if it aint there). So both goalkeepers froze to death and unusually both sides looked like they couldn't wait for a suck of an orange at half time which is why it probably seemed to be a long time coming.
Mogga didn't help the situation with his once again bonkers line up which saw Gera on the left at the start. What is this all about following the constant playing of Morrison and Brunt off the wrong foot. I know we love chanting "The p*!*, we're only taking the pi*!" but can we get a goal up or two first before we start fooking about? Thankfully (though what a sad way for it happen to a constantly improving player) Morrison's injury changed all that though too late to inject any impetus into us first half. The 4-5-1, to be fair to him, worked to great effect at Scunthorpe but not here because, principally, we never went wide and left Miller at times literally on his own up front.
So a break for 15 mins and regroup. Coventry can't do anything different or better, especially with ten men, but we can so will the Indian sign of being on the telly work against us again or will come out an be strategically average against a bunch of hardworking triers and make the ball do the work? The latter thank the lord. A sublime ball from Gera in the middle (I know Mogga but give me a break, I've got a point too) fed Robinson and a sublime finish. He really is having his best season ever for us as a footballer, surely?
From that point on it was a done deal. We were organised, fit, had worn the pants off them first half and made the ball work so hard second half (and poor Cov harder) that the result was in no doubt. The second opportunistic goal killed it as a contest though I'm personally sure it was already over. From then on we just played "keepy ball" like the AC Milans of this world and the other lot couldn't stop us putting two more in (the third the goal of the game - who's this Fabregas chap?) and Bednar (big and impressive for a short time) should have had a cast iron penalty but I think the ref was feeling sorry for the Cov players. Certainly our lot were as they refused to turn the screw in the last 15 mins unless it was offered them on a plate like the fourth goal. Should we have turned the screw and scored seven, or indeed changed the formation, or just had a training ground rest? I'll settle for the rest in a long hard season with three key performers out already, boring though it was.
Player marks (some of which may seem daft when we won 4-0 but remember the first half)
First off big thanks to Nottsbaggie for the parking tip, as the day wore on I knew I would never make the coach I had booked. So booked a parking spot on line as he recommended. Arrived there, at the car park, just as the game kicked off. They loaded me into a land rover and gave me a lift up to within a few meteres of the ground. Brilliant service, and I got in just in time to see Mifsud trudge off. Once back at the car park two mins to get out and on the M6 in five min, top tip mate.
The Ricoh was, as someone predicted, completly and utterly souless, oddly as I approached the ground not a sound escaped a quite errie experience. If you werent there let me tell you it was bloody freezing too! The massed Baggies made plenty of noise, must add this was my first away game in many years, many, many years.
As has been adequately expressed allready we were crap first half and just about every Baggie nipped down under the stand for a warm up at half time. Have to say the stadium catering facilities were impressive to me compared to the shite under the Smethwick.
Again have to say I dont like Tex and Koren on the same pitch together, I know he scored two but I wince sometimes at how 'lightweight' he is and his falling over when anyone runs past is frankly embarrassing sometimes. I also have to be contentious here and say 'Tiny M' aint at his best at the moment for some reason, he ambles/lumbers about a lot of the time, seems to be carrying his right leg too, and boy did he miss Kev telling him where to be and where to move to, A bit of a little boy lost and out of his depth last night. Deanos distribution seems to be going backwards, literally.
Second half deffo proved the old adage of 'a game of two halves' from somewhere a completely different team turned up, attacking, concise, accurate, passionate and up for it. Sublime goal from Robbo, as Batman said earlier good to have him back in the fold. I'm no expert but I think Tex was moved from the centre to a wider role and seemed much more comfortable on the ball.
CORNERS!!!!!!!!! Jonno took some absolutely shite corners from just in front of me second half, none of which got more than a couple of feet off the ground. Some of the short corner he and Tex contrived were pretty dire too. Batman work your magic and offer the coaches some advice on corner tactics please.
As the game wore on and it became pretty clear cc were well out of it their supporters, what few there were, started to stream to the exits. Some hardy cc souls off to our right started some conga lines to amuse themselves, and the Baggies did mexican waves. At one point we elicited a wave from Don Goodman in the sky commentary position, another excuse for another mexican wave.
Frankly both the team and and supportors were taking the piss mercilessly for the last 15 min. Even the coppers around me were smirking. Which brings me to stewarding, another subject dear to my heart, can anyone explain how cov, with about 2/3 of our average crowd last night, seemed to get by fine with about 1/10 of the numbers of stewards we have? The stewards and coppers were excellent last night and if anyone is interested we all pretty well stood for the entire second half (mostly so we could stamp our feet to keep warm)
'Nuff said I think
PS bring on the dingles and a big thank you to Batman for me ticket!!!
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