West Bromwich Albion 2 - Charlton Athletic 2
Albion win 4-3 on penalties after extra time
Valiant few make trip in vain
Albion earned a place in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup against Charlton Athletic at The Hawthorns, but only after extra time and a tense penalty shoot-out.
The Baggies made three changes from the original tie, bringing back Pele for Bostjan Cesar, selecting James Morrison rather than Robert Koren and playing Roman Bednar in a 4-4-2 formation at the expense of Chris Brunt.
The chances of a penalty showdown looked unlikely when Albion took an unexpected lead in the 14th minute. Jonathan Greening made a good turn out on the right and swung over a perfect deep cross. Even so the diminutive Felipe Teixeira did remarkably well to direct a header across the six yard box for Roman Bednar who could scarcely avoid prodding the ball home. McLeod should have done better for Charlton when he was nodded through the centre, but allowed Kiely to make a save at his feet. Then Albion threatened as Bednar made a strong run down the left, but his low cross was intercepted just before Miller could pounce. In first half stoppage time the visitors could and should have drawn level. McLeod won the ball inside Albion?s half, raced on goal, drew a defender and passed inside to Varney, who failed to control the ball properly before ballooning it over the bar.
Albion needed another goal and got one in the 51st minute and once again it was Felipe Teixeira who set up the chance. This time he received the ball on the edge of the Albion penalty area, raced to the halfway line, dummied past a defender and then crossed. The ball was intercepted, but Tex made a determined tackle to win it back and slid a pass across the face of the box to James Morrison, who, spotting the keeper slightly off centre deliberately drove low and hard just inside the left hand post. If a shot from Zoltan Gera hadn?t been saved at full stretch by Weaver then it probably wouldn?t have mattered that Charlton pulled a goal back in the 64th minute. They got a lucky rebound into the path of Iwelumo and although Kiely rushed out to save with his feet, the ball went straight to Ambrose who side-footed into the vacant net. The visitors applied plenty of pressure but Albion survived. Then, literally seconds past the 90th minute Charlton equalised. They?d brought players up for a long throw, which was only partially cleared. A mishit cross was helped into the danger area and substitute Dickson reacted quickest to sweep the ball past Kiely.
Each side had a big opportunity to win the game in extra time. In the first half Robert Koren released Roman Bednar and his early cross found MacDonald, but the substitute?s shot was beaten out by Weaver. Then in the closing stages Dickson held off Pele and shot hard and low against the foot of the post.
In front of the Smethwick End Varney fired the first penalty against the bar, but this was balanced when Weaver saved from Greening. However, after Dean Kiely made a very good stop from Zhi, both James Morrison and Roman Bednar kept their nerve to earn the Baggies the narrowest of wins.
A victory is a victory and given that Charlton are arguably our closest challengers and the weather was appalling I?ll settle for the win, although obviously inside 90 minutes would have been better. Reviewing the TV highlights I was impressed by Felipe Texeira?s contribution to both goals. My choice for man-of-the-match was between James Morrison and Roman Bednar, who both coincidentally scored the vital penalties.
There?s a remarkable parallel with our FA Cup Third Round meeting with Charlton in 1930-31. Then, as now, both clubs were in the ?2nd Division? and drew 1-1 at The Valley and 2-2 at The Hawthorns. In 1930-31 the Baggies also progressed to the Fourth Round, not by penalties, but by winning a 2nd Replay at Villa Park 3-1 on a Monday afternoon in front of a crowd of 27,764! Far from hindering the Baggies promotion chances, we famously went on to complete a unique FA Cup and Promotion double. What are the odds for a repeat?
ALBION FORMRATE: FAIR
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: JAMES MORRISON
Our opponents in the next round will be Peterborough United who we?ve never met before in the FA Cup. We have a mixed record against The Posh in the League Cup. The first ever meeting between the two clubs was in the 1965-66 League Cup Semi-final when, after a shaky 2-1 win in the 1st Leg at The Hawthorns, we convincingly won the 2nd Leg at London Road 4-2 and went on to win the trophy. In 1968-69 they gained revenge by winning at home 2-1 and then twenty years later beat us over two legs, winning 3-0 at The Hawthorns but losing 0-2 at London Road. Of course the most recent meeting was earlier this season when goals from Zoltan Gera and Nathan Ellington gave us a 2-0 victory at Posh. We must beware of overconfidence, as in last night?s League Two clash with Accrington Stanley they won 8-2!
Finally, as a supporter who hates it when someone pushes past me to leave before the 90 minutes are complete, I couldn?t help be amused to see many fans rushing to get back in to the ground for extra time!
It was wet... very wet... How the East Stand was designed/built only a few years ago and leaks rain as far up the stand as it does is incredible - tonight people were getting soaked actually up and past the walkway between upper and lower sections..
The weather I'd like to think was the cause of the fairly lack- lustre performace from both teams... Albion shaded a very scrappy first half and for our first goal I doubt Bednar knew that much about it - Tex's header was going well wide despite him being only 6 years out and well placed to head home, his header was missing the right hand post by a fair distance but Bednar was standing in the right place and (giving him the benefit of the doubt after the slow mo) stuck out his leg (when it went in I thought it had just bounced off him).
In the second half the play was slightly better and although Morrison's goal for our second was a well placed finish from just outside the area it seemed to be against the run of play at the time. We seemed to settle down only after Charlton scored their 1st goal - the end result of not being able to clear our lines agan. As the game wore on, you could sense that with the weather conditions that mistakes were going to be made that may let them back into the game although we had a couple of good chances also to put it beyond them.. We had a good claim for a penalty turned down after the ref decided a blatant foul was committed just outside the box when Miller I think turned his man and would have been through. Before Gera was subbed he had a great attempt from 30 yards that just shaved over the bar as it was dipping.
There were some diabolical misses from both sides - Charlton missing a sitter - almost open goal and blazing over from 6 yards... and in extra time McDonald squandered a header from very close range when a fantastic Brunt cross seemed to bounce on top of him and balloon over the bar from a few yards out.
Best of the bunch for me tonight were Pele, Gera, Brunt when he came on and Bednar... Morrison got better as the game wore on and had a good one too. Miller desparately needs a goal - McDonald even more...
Crowd was only 12,600ish as I think the weather would have kept a couple of thousand away, but they got behind the team reasonably well for he numbers especially in the later stages. It wasn't a patch on the athmosphere and the sort of replay that Middlesborough was though. A long way to go on a night like this but I'm feelng happy enough.
At least Peterborough is only 15 minutes for me...
Appalling defensive display
All I'll say about the Charlton game is that 'Comic Cuts' defending, which was so very apparent, if replicated in any remaining games will leave me, and i suspect those fans who bothered to attend, tearing their hair out.
Yes Dean Kiely was at fault. Yes his kicking was 'awful' BUT the truly appalling display from players who should know better was equally to blame.
Pele, who had a 'sound' defensive display, seems determined to believe that he's a reincarnation of Joe Kennedy or Ray Barlow.
PEDRO, WHEN YOUR THE LAST DEFENDER YOU DON'T, REPEAT DON'T, ATTEMPT FANCY SHORT PASSES IN DANGEROUS SITUATIONS. HAVE YOU A SUICIDE WISH?!
But he wasn't alone and even for Albion the number of times they 'managed' to give the ball away was unbelievable.
Again i heard Tony Brown describe this infuriating habit as 'barmy'. Yes we all love to see ball passed around WHEN circumstances allow.
BUT on a rain soaked pitch and the heavens opening for the whole of the game, even Tony Mowbray must expect his players at times to simply 'hammer the ball away when the situation demands?necessary?
Of course i'm delighted we won but a similar repeat against Cardiff with Hasselbaink lurking around could cost us dear. The loss of three points would be a major 'footballing' disaster and put the trip for the 4th Round FA Cup game at Peterborough into perspective.
Was at the game last night. Heres my thoughts. In no particular order.
Listening to the team announced at the start I thought this was going to go very strongly one way or the other. Playing a midfield of Tex, Gera and Morrison is quite aggressive and, after a while, it started quite well. Texeira's touch is so good he gives himself time to turn defenders and play some lovely balls. He's just so lightweight. It's frustrating seeing him easily shoved off the ball. Our goals came as everyone in the ground knew they would as we we by far the better side and really there's no way we should have allowed Charlton back in to the game.
The substitutions were well timed and good tactically IMHO. Koren on for Gera shored up the midfield and seemed to give us more control after Pardew's introduction of Iwelumo, who totally changed the Complexion of the game with Charlton beginning to look dangerous. Matt Holland had been becoming very influential and Koren definitely stopped that. While Brunt didn't have a particularly good game after coming on he did show their right back he wasn't going to be shoved around.
Thought we were composed as a team. Mowbray obviously tells them to pass it when they can and it shows. Passing it out of defence is hard to watch as a fan because you know what could happen and the consequenses but it is undoubtedly the right thing to do.
People around me were complaining about a lot of back passes to Keily, but I felt it was justified rather than hoof it and concede possession.
Twas a good atmosphere considering there were only 12,000 in the ground.
Never seen a penalty shoot out at the Hawthorns before, great to win one, but wouldn't want to lose one, or travel back to South London on a cold wet Windy night after having lost one.
Another performance where we looked a bit below par. The first half could have gone either way and we were perhaps fortunate to have gone in a goal up.
I had just commented to a friend that Greening was playing with his foot half on the gas and reserving plenty when he decided to get on the ball wide right, created an opening with some good skill and hit a great cross. Tex made a real hash of his header but Bednar showed great reflexes to turn Tex's header in from six yards. Bednar was easily our best player on the night. He worked his socks off (until they were around his ankles) and created several opportunities for others who should have done better (Miller & MacDonald). He was covering more ground than MacDonald in extra time despite being shattered. A real team player and for me he has to start. If you were being critical you could say he gives away too many sloppy fouls.
Second half we were OK and got a decent second goal that should have killed the game. Kiely, who was poor with his kicking all game, made a real hash of a simple gathering of the ball (slid and hit his shins) and their player scored.
The introduction of Brunt & Koren sured us up. Brunt hit 3 or 4 crosses that deserved to be finished. Koren was sent out to right wing. At this stage in the game I would have put him in the centre with Greening and shifted Morrison right. We didn't. Shergar came on, looked a threat but you never thought he would score and so it proved. We looked comfortable anyway. We conceded a very poor goal from a long throw and then we were the better side for pretty much the whole of injury time.
The penalties were pretty impressive. We hit the target 5 times and scored 4. With the way 'keepers can move on the line now and dive prior to the kick being taken hitting the target is all you can ask for. Jonno's wasn't a terrible penalty, it had plenty of power and was to one side but it was a decent height for Weaver who guessed the right way. Brunt's was the pick for me, low and hard- he hit it like a rocket. I'd have him taking them if he's on the pitch. Kiely made a decent save and Charlton hit the bar with their first.
I suppose Cardiff will be happy. I'd give Greening and Bednar the week off to recover and have them in the side on Saturday.
In spite of the appalling weather and driving 135 miles home in sodden clothes, we were pleased with a good team effort. Except for a number of goalkeeping errors and occasional defenders attempting to pass in conditions not suitable for pretty football, I did not think that Charlton showed much danger until Iwelumo came on. Again, the weather was not the best for Texeira's close ball control, but he was up and down the pitch.
On the attacking side, Bednar is excellent, but since his return from injury, I feel that Miller has lost a yard of pace and also his confidence, but score another goal and hopefully it will all return. Tony Mowbray and the team can be pleased with the effort that they put into the game, and we can only hope that we do not suffer the backlash of last season and that 3 full days are enough to recharge for Saturday.
Overall that was one the worst games I've seen for a fair few years.
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