Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Albion 1-0 Leeds United, Championship, February 11 2014

A bus to the ground and bemused texts from those without blue and white veins trying to negotiate the station can only mean Leeds are visiting. Our original swashbuckling Spaniard (in place of the injured Bruno) is the only change from the Donny game, so it’s unsurprising to see the first half head much the same way as Saturday, with Orlandi and March among those to lump shots into the away end.

The second half, as an ITV commentator might have it, proves more industrial – we seem to re-emerge intent on matching their physicality.

Maybe it’s designed as a trick, because a few minutes later Oscar slings LuaLua down the left in place of Rodney. Kaz promptly leaves a couple of hapless markers with double-knotted blood and, in an unexpected twist, manages to find Ulloa with a cross, who appears to half-shank it into the far corner with the outside of his foot.

Buckley returns (and almost scores) and the defence seems to have self-healed since the Watford game, although during the final few minutes we revert to type and offer them a succession of attacks and corners.

The result stops Leeds, who bring 2,000 angels with them, from leapfrogging us and puts us to within a point of the play-offs – bad news for their manager, Brian McDermott, whose crazed Italian would-be chairman didn’t stick to his threat to turn up at the ground but presumably will try to sack him if he takes hold of the world’s angriest club. Ince also looks increasingly like our best arrival from Chelsea since little Leon and little Liam.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Albion 1-0 Doncaster Rovers, Championship, February 8 2014

Donny at home with its enormous emotional cache – full of pockets in between memories, where the last game at the Goldstone and the first game at Falmer are circled in red the colour of their home shirt, whereas for the nerds (maybe) there are now-amusing, then-horrendous thoughts of their chairman setting fire to their ground and the appalling, practically unattended attempt at a sequel to Fans United, when we played them at Gillingham in one of the worst games ever witnessed, touted as a relegation battle but never really in danger of being one because they were so far behind at the bottom of Div Three.

Anyway, no room for sentiment – Spanish Rodney started upfront, Solly March played in a kind of strange flux between the wing and defensive midfield, and Kemy was left to draft his latest fork-tongued tweet on the bench.

There isn't much to be said for the game that can't be expressed with the reflection that we had 17 shots to their five: the first half contained more crosses than a bakery at Easter, but Orlandi's similarities to Beckham are purely aesthetic.

Rodney has that CMS hyperactivity which makes him look like he's running four steps to every one from a defender, which is traditionally a precursor to being a terrible finisher, but Kaz and Buckley's fragility meant he spent most of the game haring off towards the corner flags.

Donny had intermittent chances – including a couple of sitters – although it would have been more dispiriting than the horror of the Barnsley defeat had we not won, which we did, inevitably given the number of times the ball circumnavigated their six-yard box, when Leo scored one of those glancing headers he could find the net with blindfolded after a crate of Corona.

Billy Sharp got sent off for a tangle with GG which, on another day, might have seen old Braveheart get his knuckle dusters out and disappear for a few games. Paul Dickov managed to keep a straight face while claiming Donny were “outstanding” - hopefully Leeds and Hull will fall equally short of that description.