Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Get 'em in singles

WBA 1 - 1 Newcastle Utd

There is an apocryphal story surrounding a  test match between England and Australia from 1902, in which, needing 15 to win with only one wicket remaining, one of the men (George Hurst) said to the England number XI (Wilfred Rhodes) that "We'll get 'em in singles, Wilfred".

Currently, as we hover over the relegation zone, just far enough away to not be fully panicked, but equally not so safe that we can count our chickens, there is a sense that we're inching our way to safety.

In that context, Saturday's draw to early-season pace setters West Brom represented another single in our quest for mathematical safety.

Out of the traps early, presumably with an intent to put right the previous weekend's wrongs, we got ahead early thanks to Goofy's deft flicked header from a fine Papiss Cisse cross. Throughout the first half, we continued to push West Brom back, with Saylor unlucky that the ball didn't quite fall for him from a corner and Cisse later firing over having been gifted a clear run on goal thanks to a terrible back-pass (think Santon against Benfica).

At half-time, though, the Baggies regrouped and reshuffled, switching to a more direct approach which saw us quickly pegged back and scrabbling frantically to hold on to our lead. Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku headed over and we looked to be riding our luck, only for our defence to be breached when Billy Jones (the Baggies' first English goalscorer this season) was able to evade a tackler and score with a good low shot.

Back on level terms, the home side continued to press but thankfully their attacks foundered on a gritty black and white rearguard and we came away with a precious point.

While our inferior goal difference has seen us drop behind both 5under1and and Stoke, we remain three points clear of Villa and six clear of Wigan's 18th place (albeit Wigan have a game in hand).

For those left wondering, Hurst and Rhodes went on to score 13 singles and 1 two to win the match.  Hopefully we'll be able to do likewise.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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