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Reserves vs. West Brom


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A rare venture out to an away game with the reserves for me as we popped up the road to take on the Albion on the kind of cold night where it takes a particularly bright little spark to light up a game.

Good job we’ve got one. 2-1 to Villa and the mighty Bannan.

Welcome to the Hawthorns, where parking is a pain in the arse, but the view isn’t bad.

I can just about stomach a fiver for a reserve game, but when the young lady inside the gates wanted 10p for a photocopied team sheet it was very nearly a step too far. Sometimes you don’t have to go a long way to remember just how good home is.

A good-sized crowd of 576 gathered at the Hawthorns and a mix of fans, probably not far from being a fifty-fifty split between Albion and Villa awaited the arrival of the teams.

It was good to see Jonathon Hogg taking some part in the warm up prior to kick off after his long lay off.

Villa lined up with Parish in goal, a back four (left to right) of Lowry, Baker, Clark and Roome. Bannan, Herd, Stieber and Albrighton were the midfield quartet and upfront Weinmann got the nod to support Delfouneso.

Albion brought an experienced line up including Dean Kiely, Carl Hoefkens and of course Luke Moore. They also featured a big lump of a number nine by the name of Slusarski who apparently has a full international cap for Poland; they’re very proud of that at the Hawthorns.

Oh, and of course a centre half called Pele.

Villa started brightest with an early Bannan ball finding Albrighton who forced a decent save out of Kiely.

After the opening period Albion pressured though and might have scored but for a Lowry clearance off the line. They were looking the more dangerous side but not creating much.

A booking for Lowry led to a long range effort hammered in from Worrall and seemingly headed for goal until Luke Moore saved us with his plums; a great block that left him with more of a limp than usual for a few minutes and was greeted warmly by fans of both sides. I think it’s fair to say the Baggies haven’t warmed to Luke.

Villa threatened only occasionally on the break, but produced the best chance of the game after around twenty minutes, a pinpoint Albrighton through ball putting Delfouneso in. The Fonz dwelt a little too long however and the chance closed up on him.

Villa were breaking well, but neither striker seemed to be able to get going. Delfouneso was played in again on 39 minutes, beating his man and finding himself one on one with the keeper, despite having been clearly pulled back. Sadly he put the shot straight at Kiely when he might have done better. A more experienced striker would have gone down and had the defender sent off, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Albion were next with a chance, whistling a shot just over Parish’s bar as the game opened up.

A miscommunication in midfield between Herd and Stieber let Albion in and led to a ball across from the left that found Luke Moore unmarked five yards out.

His dink over the keeper was met with a great paw from young Parish, which unfortunately fell back to the feet of Moore now two yards out.

He placed it neatly in the corner, where the now prone Parish flung out a hand and parried it a couple of feet outside the post, where once again it landed at the feet of Moore, now just a yard out.

His shot took a deflection off the head of a horizontal Baker and nestled into the back of the net.

Albion one nil up after Luke Moore’s first goal in an Albion shirt, albeit not one he’ll be particularly proud of.

Kevin MacDonald had a good old swear and had to be told off by the fourth official.

On 43 minutes, my favourite moment of the match as Albion broke down our left side.

The linesman made a valiant effort to keep up with play; a picture of concentration as he stared across the line, unfortunately he failed to notice the gathering of West Brom substitutes on the sideline and ploughed headlong into them, managing to knock all three to the ground like bowling pins.

He cut his head in the process and had to be treated by the Albion physio. All three subs had to return to the bench so he couldn’t hear them laughing. The physio held up three fingers and asked him how many, I presume he said three as a fan at the front shouted “He’s cured!” and the physio had a good old chuckle.

At this point the linesman gave the physio a rollocking. Who says they’ve got no sense of humour eh?

Albion dominated the remainder of the half with Baker producing an excellent block to keep us in the game, and as the 52-minute first half ended, it was bottom of the table West Brom ahead against top of the table Villa.

MacDonald switched things about a bit in the second half, with Lowry coming into the centre and Baker going out to the left. He did the same in midfield with Bannan coming into a central position and Stieber heading to the flank.

It worked almost immediately, and we pressed for an equalizer from the off. Stieber almost provided it with a 20-yard volley that cannoned off the bar. Albrighton couldn’t quite get onto the rebound and scuffed a shot wide.

A moment later Delfouneso sneaked through the Albion defence and forced another good save from Kiely that he could only palm into the path of Herd unmarked on the edge of the six yard box.

Herd chose power over placement and managed to clobber the bar when it looked easier to score, the sarcastic cheers of the Albion fans had barely got going when the rebound was hammered home from just outside the box, on the volley by Bannan; a terrific finish, and a great equalizer.

Roome was booked shortly afterward for a foul on Slusarski, the Pole responding with an ugly lunge, which thankfully missed but left MacDonald fuming.

On 66 minutes, Delfouneso beat his man, and played a ball in for Weimann that the defender managed to get a foot to. Unfortunately, he could only deflect the ball to the edge of the box, where Bannan again charged in and volleyed home, twice in five minutes and both crackers. He looked delighted, and why not!

Hofbauer came on for Albrighton shortly after and Bannan was once again banished to the wing, his works complete for the evening.

From there, his next involvement was a great saving tackle as the Baggies briefly threatened a comeback.

They were soon snuffed out though, and the remaining fifteen minutes were largely about Dean Kiely who made three really good saves to deny Delfouneso twice and Hofbauer a good goal.

In the end, the last chance of the night fell to Luke Moore who broke through the Villa defence and looked for all the world like he was about to hit an equaliser. A quite magnificent block by Lowry kept him out.

Luke left thinking of what could have been.

Again.

Some ratings;

Parish (7) dealt well with Albion’s attacks. Making a couple of good saves and generally handling everything well. He’s improved a lot on crosses this year and grown a bit. He could be a decent keeper yet.

Roome (6) Determined. I always say determined when Roome plays. It’s because he is. Slusarski was a big physical presence and Roome looked completely unbothered by him. I’d like to see him get forward more, but he’s defensively sound enough.

Lowry (7) Much more comfortable in the middle than at left back, and showed it, a very good second half performance and a great block at the end from young Shane.

Ciaran Clarke (6) looked solid, but lacked some of the composure we’ve seen before from the youngster. Albion’s front line are tricky customers though, and ultimately he did well in keeping them at bay.

Baker (6) A similar game to Clark, and one that will stand both in good stead; excellent in the air and Laursen-esque from set pieces. When he physically matures he’s going to be a big ‘un. Just needs more games at this level to keep his development going.

Herd (6) not the easiest game for Herd, he worked hard but never quite got on top of the Albion midfield. The fact that he matched them though says much for the industry of a young man playing in a four-man midfield with three wingers.

Stieber (6) struggled in the first half from a central position, but started to enjoy himself in the second half. Unlucky not to score when he hit the bar, but will maybe think he could have done a bit more over the course of the game.

Bannan (8.) “He looks like he should be in bed,” shouted an Albion fan as the teams lined up before kick off. I just smiled. Frustrated on the wing, where he simply doesn’t see enough of the ball, once he moved inside we started to tick. His two finishes were of the highest quality and showed a technique that one or two in the first team would envy. He’s a great passer of the ball, determined tackler, set piece demon and scorer of great goals. All hail the Bannan!

Albrighton (7) worked his socks off as always down the right hand side and produced a couple of very good balls. He’s one that could do really well out on loan.

Delfouneso (7) poor first half, much better second. He’s a lot like his opposite number tonight in that when he’s not doing well he can look very ordinary. Once he got going though, he started to show the threat he can be and but for the excellent Kiely he could have had a couple of goals to show for his efforts.

Weimann (6) seemed to struggle to find space and at times got caught in possession. Showed occasional flashes of his talent, but this was some way short of his excellent performance against Arsenal.

Subs.

Hofbauer (7) looked bright, industrious and creative in midfield. I like him.

Collins and Forrester weren’t really on for long enough to judge unfortunately.

And that’s your lot until next year I’m afraid, our next home game is in January, and there seems to be a question mark over where home will be. Wherever we end up playing try and pop along, this lot are well worth a look.

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The linesman made a valiant effort to keep up with play; a picture of concentration as he stared across the line, unfortunately he failed to notice the gathering of West Brom substitutes on the sideline and ploughed headlong into them, managing to knock all three to the ground like bowling pins.

He cut his head in the process and had to be treated by the Albion physio. All three subs had to return to the bench so he couldn’t hear them laughing. The physio held up three fingers and asked him how many, I presume he said three as a fan at the front shouted “He’s cured!” and the physio had a good old chuckle.

Bahahahahaaa, brilliant! :-)

Nice write up Big Fella...........I really hope to see Bannan in the first team one day - from the games I saw last season, he and Herd stand out above the rest

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Great stuff Scott. Enjoyed that as always. Does make you wonder why Bannan and Stieber started the match in each others' positions though :? Doesn't make sense. Glad you didn't catch your death of cold from it too ! :)

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