My fellow REDS..
I’m just grateful for the 3 points.. :-)
It was a case of chasing after the wind.. chasing shadows really.. as a determined West Brom side were not in the mood to go for a draw.
In the end the wind that mattered delivered.. our very own El Nino with another winning goal that sealed a hard-fought and 3 precious points to go with it.
We looked to this game as the catalyst to galvanize our league campaign after just claiming 1 point from our earlier 2 encounters. A well-rested Gerrard and Torres were expected to spearhead the attack and Roy did not disappoint us with our dynamic duo in the starting eleven. And so was a fresh Jovanovic but with a possibly tired Kuyt who endured the torrid pitch midweek in Turkey.
In fact, our central pairing of Lucas & Poulsen had worked their socks off in the heavy conditions in Trabzon and the effects revealed itself when they were second best to the West Brom midfield who worked so very hard to close us down.
Not only were the Baggies adept at cutting off our attacks, they were equally adventurous going forward and had a couple of sniffs at our goal. Reina had to stay alert to make some smart saves & catches.
Torres had the early shot which was calmly caught by Scott Carson. But we were soon to endure a torrid time as West Brom attacked wave after wave. We even survived penalty appeals when Skrtel was thought to have bundled over the West Brom player in the penalty box. But the referee, Mr Lee Probert, seemed intent on enforcing “English-style” interpretation of the law… allowing lots of these challenges even in the box. It was soon to even out when we were denied later in the game a second goal when a raised arm blocked Nando’s goal-bound shot.
It was only at the half-hour mark when we really threatened Carson’s goal when Kuyt latched onto a quick freekick only to see a defender block his shot. This was also when Torres seemed to be pulled down in the box but the ref shook his head in disagreement.
There was even time for a last-minute scare at Reina’s goal but the stalemate remained to our exasperation and relief !!
Flashes of brilliance was offered by Jovanovic, even some timely tackles by Lucas. But with Poulsen still getting to know his teammates, you could see why Roy preferred to add another defensive midfielder to our ranks with the swift transfer and unveiling of Raul Meireles.
And with Paul Konchesky expected to sign within the next 48 hours before the transfer deadline, you can see the need to have a flying leftback, rather than the improvised one in Agger.. though the Dane did play his part to neutralize the physical presence of the West Brom players during set-pieces.
Out into the second half, the pace was getting better in our favour. There was more spark especially with Maxi in the fray. Skrtel came close from a corner, volleying a shot just over the bar. Yet, West Brom were still dangerous on the counter. It was from such a move that we had our goal at their mercy only to happily see Reina collect the shot cleanly.
Then with a swing of his arm, Reina had Kuyt running with the ball, advancing into the West Brom half. A quick one-two with Torres meant Kuyt was in the clear with Gerrard screaming for the ball in the box, drawing some defenders alongside. All this time, Torres positioned himself away from the crowded six-yard box. And with a delicate chip by Kuyt into Nando’s path, our Super Striker took one look and planted his shot away from the keeper into the net to the rapturous joy of the Kop End and REDS worldwide !!
Finally a goal !! But what was to follow looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Our 2 holding midfielders sat deep in our own half. This meant any break in our attacks were easily picked up by the West Brom players to launch their counter-attacks. We were to endure anxious moments and we were also to endure a penalty denied for a so-called “not deliberate” hand-ball as called by Mr Probert.
Then came a moment where maybe the ref wanted to atone for his strange decisions the whole afternoon. A swing at the leg of Torres provoked a reaction from the Reds, but Morrison probably didn’t expect a straight Red Card to come out of Mr Probert’s pocket.
So 1 man down into the last few minutes of the game and the Baggies still looked threatening. In came Babel for Torres who went off to a standing ovation. No more goals till the full time whistle but it was really a relief for all REDS.. no goal glut, but just thankful for the win against a very brave West Brom who has shown that the drubbings they received in the opening game will be a thing of the past