From My Seat: WBA (A)

Ken reports on a ‘boss’ day in the West Midlands

Ken Buckley 13/09/2014 17comments  |  Jump to last

A trip to the West Midlands is always very welcome travel wise but the result has to be right to make it what we now call Boss... so I reckon today must be a Boss day.

Lukaku starts but no Distin or Etoo in the squad. We lose the toss and kick off. Anyone with a suspicious bent may fear the worst. The vast majority of the travelling faithful did not fall into this category as the pre-match build-up built up in volume and variety of songs and chants proclaiming we are a School of Science, one that knows nothing more than a team steeped in history and sublime football with a spine of iron that ensures not only victory in football matches but the Grand National the Open and Boat Race to boot.

This is the norm at any away game but this season we are in Europa competition so, if you get the chance to get to these games, you can get an idea of away travel atmosphere at Goodison; the more we progress, then that elusive bear-pit, ground-rocking experience can be felt. It is an experience that never leaves you so lets hope the manager and team are up for it as much as the fans as I believe we really need a trophy of some sort what better than the Europa League and a ticket to the big time.

The kick-off was delayed a short time as the ref went to the side-line to check something or other, maybe TV timings played a part but it gave the travelling fans the chance to belt out a couple of our anthems; then he came back and off we went.

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We went into our normal mode of playing it about at the back which seemed to go on for ages but in less than two minutes we fed Naismith who made good fast strides forward and found the raiding Baines down our left. He put in a good cross but no Blue shirts had made the strides and a free clearance was offered to Olsson, but he fluffed it straight to Lukaku on the edge of the box. He controlled, sized up his options and bent a sublime curler into the net. The keeper knew where it was going but could do nothing about it. "GOAL!" We yelled, "Allez Allez O" rang out. The School of Science had opened.

After the goal, WBA had a spell and we looked both good and bad in equal measure defensively. After being on the back foot, we did on 20 minutes break out via Naismith who made ground and fed Mirallas who seemed not to want to take his man on in a foot race and, from the moment he checked back, the promising move was doomed. From that point, we had a spell and but for Coleman under-hitting his pass to Naismith we may have been in.

The game now limped a bit in a sort of pleasing passing basketball type of attack and defence that got neither team anywhere and the torpor was only lifted when Jags showed that his timing is still a little off by conceding a soft foul in the D. The ref marked the semi-circle for the ball then the line for our players to stand behind. The hosts' Gardner disputed the length of the refs strides and paced it himself which did not change the refs mind one bit and earned him a booking to boot. Gardner took the kick himself and hit the wall for a corner that was ushered away.

Not a lot going on until 30-minute mark when we were put under a bit of pressure in our box but Baines read the situation well. His clearance was more of panic than guile, though, and only found Brunt on the angle of the box. His hard-hit shot hit the side-netting; many thought it was in. More stalemate footy until a decent bit of the joined-up stuff saw the ball moved from defence to attack and Mirallas put in with a sniff of a chance. His shot was with power and height, unfortunately a bit too much.

Then back to the scrappy end-to-end stuff with neither side being in any way decisive to such an extent that the faithful were quiet which a rarity when away from home. In keeping with this malaise, Colemans under-hit pass to Barry put us in trouble but we coped with the aid of a WBA poor delivery. In first-half injury time, Lukaku showed his strength by shrugging off defenders and got a decent position but his shot was hard but high.

Half-time and we hadnt conceded and led 1-0 by way of a gift. We would take that, I reckon.

The second half started as the first finished scrappy. It was about to get boring when out of nowhere a piece of play saw Lukaku in. His shot was venomous and came back out off the keeper straight to our scoring ace Naismith. He hit it over a gaping goal! As a measure of his new-found status no one berated him. Osman must have been glad it wasnt him

We got to the hour mark and the only real excitement was when Howard went down bravely at the feet of attackers to deflect the ball out which was scrambled away. Although our rearguard was playing quite well with Stones and Jags showing improvement from previous matches and Coleman and Baines looking to get up and down the onlooker always had that feeling a rick could take place it didnt, so fair dous to them.

I thought just after the hour we were getting well on top but seemed to be crying out for a playmaker. A look at the subs suggested Osman but for whom? I was to get my answer in short order but not until we went two up in the 65th min. Same sort of build up as the first goal we break from the back, Baines moves forward and plays in Mirallas toward the edge, he jinks inside a marker and fires off a right footer that seemed to lack venom but to his and our delight it seemed to go right through the keeper and nestle. Bad judgment or what, no-one cared as the Blue end went mental. Just three minutes or so later Lukaku was protected and swapped for Osman. Lukaku, bad toe and all, had done well and looked more like the man we know.

We had command of the game but it took a great tackle by Stones to keep it that way after Jags had been beaten in the air and the hosts did try to attack and probe but could not breach our defences and had to put up with their own fans deriding them. I must mention Barry who throughout had been a pillar of strength in an understated way, but I am sure his display would be more than appreciated by his team-mates.

Just five to go and Coleman gave the ball away in the box but a fine tackle and clearance from Stones saved his blushes. Besic replaced McGeady and both players got appreciation from the faithful yet Basics only contribution of note was to get booked.

The Olés were out now as we put the move of the match together with a mesmeric passing routine that got Osman in and his fine shot was brilliantly fingertip-saved by the keeper.

Two-nil up, well on top, so time now for the massed ranks of the Blue choir to belt out every song in high decibel that we ever knew. Not the greatest display but who cared: two-up and a clean sheet. Just time for a Coleman pass that seemed to be to the "lino" conceded a throw which brought a laugh but no-one cared. Mirallas fizzed one over the bar and a penalty shout that brought no whistle. We played out time and celebrated a well needed win.

MotM Barry for me.

Overall, a good day. Our first win and without it being one of our best performances; a win we needed along with a clean sheet and away from home. We are up and running. We had many a conversation with fellow fans as to how the manager will deal team wise with Thursday and Sunday. No unanimous agreement reached but all are intrigued to find out. No doubt the Group as they call a squad these days will be tested. Great position to be in though especially if the School of Science is truly back.

I never felt more like singing the blues when Everton win and ...........


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Reader Comments (17)

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Gavin Fennessy
1 Posted 13/09/2014 at 23:15:38
Thanks Ken. Great report as per usual.
Peter Creer
2 Posted 13/09/2014 at 23:58:11
Thank you Ken. Watching the game in Canada I truly connected to your description of the away day feeling. I was back home a couple of years ago and had the chance to go to The Hawthorns to see our boys.

Today's result was important because it was a clean sheet first and foremost. Although you had misgivings about Distin being out of the side, I saw it as another opportunity for John Stones to get more time in his development and I would argue he met the challenge... again.

The other important outcome was the first goal for Lukaku. Success breeds success and a young player is driven by success.

However, for me, it is the balance of the team that excites me the most. We can attack down the right or the left. We can have Lukaku hold up the ball or we can get Naismith or Mirallas to bomb forward. Our midfield, as you noted, is solid with Barry and McCarthy......

A slow start but with games against Chelsea and Arsenal out of the way there is lots to look forward to over the next month... not to mention the Europa League.


Trevor Lynes
3 Posted 14/09/2014 at 00:38:52
Surely Atsu must play some part in the next two games as he has pace and is direct. He would be a perfect sub coming off the bench with 20 minutes left.

Also Besic showed more attack-wise than McCarthy who is going through a pretty average patch at present. Macca very nearly presented WBA with a goal near the end but for two great stops by Howard. If he had been Jagielka making that blunder, he would have been castigated. We need to tighten up before the derby match.

Stephen Brown
4 Posted 14/09/2014 at 07:23:44
Hadn’t been to an away game for ages until yesterday – great atmosphere, great songs and got kissed by a bearded total stranger after Lukaku netted! The joys of an away trip!!!
Ciaran Duff
5 Posted 14/09/2014 at 07:46:12
Personally I thought Osman was excellent when he came on. Great link up play and created quite a few chances.
Peter Mills
6 Posted 14/09/2014 at 08:03:33
Thanks Ken.
Stephen Brown
7 Posted 14/09/2014 at 08:37:14
Ciaran – I agree about Osman. I’m sure he has a big role to play in these games against the lower sides.
Wayne Smyth
8 Posted 14/09/2014 at 08:48:44
Trevor, I'm sure Atsu will get pitch time in the Europa League to give Mirallas or McGeady a rest; as for Besic, yes he did offer more than McCarthy in attack, but that's largely because he replaced McGeady and was given a more attacking role.

That said, I think from what we've seen, Besic looks like he could potentially be a complete player able to play anywhere. I've not seen someone described as a defensive mid be so comfortable on the ball and have such good feet. He's also very quick.

Like the Barkley of a few years ago, it'll take a bit of time for him to acclimatise to the Premier League so he can determine when to do the tricks and when to play it safe, but I think Martinez has unearthed a gem and I think he'll be an important player for us this season once he gets a run in the side.

It's difficult to criticise McCarthy or Barry too much for not offering more offensively, because it's not known if they are deliberately asked to hold to allow the full backs to join the other 4 attacking players.

Derek Thomas
9 Posted 14/09/2014 at 08:57:14

Unable to watch the game live, I saw the early comments, some less than favourable overall. Yes, the goals were somewhat fortuitous, but you make you own luck by pressurising the opposition... Baines did the same as Olsson at about 28 mins, his fell to some body who put it in the side netting, so there you go.

Having watched it later I find that, yes the goals 'fell for us' but, the uncertainness with high balls notwithstanding, we bossed it from start to finish and could've had 5.

I think McCarthy is suffering slightly from 2nd season syndrome and that the DMF 2 we have now will not be the the same as at Christmas; just how the 4 contenders will finish is in the lap of the gods as yet.

We have gears to go up to yet and – as we have been saying for a couple of years – somebody is going to get a pasting... one day.

Derek Knox
10 Posted 14/09/2014 at 09:56:02
Thanks Ken, although it's early days we still don't seem to be quite, controlling games like last season, and will have to quickly improve, because agaist 'better' sides we will get punished.
Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 14/09/2014 at 15:05:27
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: McCarthy will be as good as he was last season when he gets the new contract he was promised once he had played one season.

That promise has not been fulfilled.

Trevor Lynes
12 Posted 14/09/2014 at 22:15:12
Dave, getting a contract extension does not always bring out the best in players. Often they play better as the contract is being negotiated.

Osman did have an impact when he came on and I reckon he is a perfect sub to come on in the last 30 minutes of a game. He could well have had two goals with a bit of luck, his shots were better than the 'goal' Mirallas scored... but that's the way things go. Naismith's miss was (I hope) the worst we make this season.

Ciaran Duff
13 Posted 15/09/2014 at 10:31:15
I did think that RM might have brought Atsu off the bench for the last 10 mins. We were in control then and it would be a good time to give him a small taster. We are going to need depth in the next few weeks and my fear is that the guys on the subs bench are not ready to take over.
Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 15/09/2014 at 14:19:04
Trevor (12) the season finished in May it is now the middle of September.

I agree about Ossie when he is played for 60 minutes or less he will usually do well. I’ve no problems with Leon.

Harold Matthews
15 Posted 16/09/2014 at 06:08:40
Must put a word in for McGeady. Off the ball he doesn't do a lot but Martinez picks him because he can go one-on-one and open things up, as he did when he sent Naismith away to score against Chelsea and beat two men to set Osman up in this match, only for Foster to make a great save. He also opens things up for himself and is gradually becoming an important member of the squad.
Bob Parrington
16 Posted 17/09/2014 at 14:05:54
I've seen some scathing comments about McGeady on other threads but, having had the chance to watch the recorded game today for the first time, I think they are harsh. I'd say no more than he was "steady" as was Stones and as was Lukaku (except for the brilliant taking of his goal). I wouldn't say that we played, like, brilliantly but clearly we did enough.

Problem is we still look weak defensively in heading opportunities and even the commentators (slow on the up-take) are starting to comment on this. We need the defenders to start to attack the balls in the air. In this sense, we are really pathetic!!!

Phil Walling
17 Posted 17/09/2014 at 14:43:49
Harold and Bob : I don't think any of us ever saw McGeady's signing as that of a super-star. He came with the reputation of a good honest winger who, on his day, could cause defences a bit of trouble.

Unfortunately, a lot of TWers don't take easily to such journeymen and choose to home in on their deficiencies rather than their work rate and many positive contributions .

Give us a flash merchant like Delboy and we're happy but the likes of Osman, Hibbo and McGeady don't excite. Just look how long it took Naismith to win us over but two bad games and he'll be getting dog's abuse again!

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