A grey cloud blanket covered the pre-match minute’s applause for ex-skipper Roger Brown who died recently after illness, and for the Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging. Cherries k.o. towards the South End and put in a good cross early. Then Lovell headed Feeney’s cross to the keeper. Arter was intercepting, anticipating, and passing well. Then Baggies went clear down the left with Thomas turning Byrne inside out, drawing Flahavan & slotting inside the far post. 0-1, 7. Oh dear.
Feeney tried something unusual – he went outside his full-back before crossing. But Byrne was skinned again, counterpointed by Pugh doing reasonably well against his marker. Taylor was winning frees, but the away defence was well drilled and always had a man to block even if passing was relatively poor. From another Feeney cross, Taylor headed over but anything else would’ve been more difficult. Dorrans hit a strong free resulting in a good save from Flahavan. I felt sorry for Dorrans – 2-3 years ago a coming player, set to take Div.1 by storm, But injury and the highest league has been too much for the moment.
Lovell was doing what he could; Arter & Molesley were decent individually but made little impact against the away midfield. At this point Barrett realised those in front of him weren’t up to much so went briefly to centre-forward. Byrne then put in a good crunch tackle, but Barrett, now in midfield, went down from a heavy one. The home display was disjointed, even though Barrett headed Feeney’s cross just wide at the near post. The captain has to lead – but not by trying to do too much. Then Arter tried to be clever on his goal-line instead of putting it out. Cox did his job, putting it along the line for Fortuné to slide it in. 0-2, 42. A sense of the inevitable came over us. HT: 0-2
Soon after the restart, the right-back made a bad error allowing Malone to go in tight to the near post, slide it to Lovell in front who poked in. Quick appreciation & execution – at last a sign of what Bradbury is trying to achieve. 1-2, 48. 5 minutes later, a diagonal pass went right through the Cherries defence, with Cooper perhaps at fault for not intercepting. Cox shaped well to pass it back across Flahavan and inside the latter’s left-hand post. Easy. 1-3, 53. So it developed into a training exercise, a pre-season friendly. Molesley was caught – no-one showing for him. Baggies hit a post with a 15-yarder; poor by Cooper to let him in. Baudry replaced Molesley on 62 who could give no more – or perhaps for damage limitation.
Showing both sides to be losing concentration, Dorrans was caught in possession. Arter was picking up on Baggies’ lackadaisical midfield. Baudry had lost the number off his back, then lost the ball, then lost blood in a head injury so required a bandage – and regained his number. But Pugh won a corner. Stockley came on at 75 for Taylor who’d been particularly ineffectual for some time. But a big hole appeared around the home penalty spot; Fortuné popped it in almost in his sleep with little celebration. 1-4, 78.
Bednar came on for a run. Pugh, central, hit it wide. Byrne was yellowed. A corner came back direct to Cooper who’d run a long way only to hit it first time well over. Those 3 incidents exemplified a bad day at the office. Barrett was made MoM again by match sponsors. Purches took over from Lovell on 89 and went central midfield – just to make him feel still involved with the team. Baggies sliced through only to miss an open goal. By now Feeney was indulging in lots of little tricks – but no point in showing off at that stage.
Little applause for the home team at the final whistle after such a moderate display. FT: 1-4.
Humph. Goal made & taken well, but a financial paradox. The club’s cash-rich from transfer monies in, so selling clubs will up the ante. But the wage cap (allegedly £1500/week) will dissuade players from Div.2 teams (the quality level needed) from signing. And yes, the club can’t afford silly wages in the mid- to long-term. Even so, a better display should have been made on the night.
Flahavan – Competent. Not really at fault with any of the goals.
Byrne – oh dear. Stick tight, or drop off? Neither. Show him the line? No – the opponent went whichever side he preferred. Yes it was Jerome Thomas, one current twisty kid. But please…
Malone – best of a mediocre bunch.
Cooper – limitations exposed; at fault for perhaps 2 goals.
Barrett – solid but tried to do too much while those ahead of him didn’t.
Feeney – only went outside once; sometimes double-teamed. Lots of crosses in the first half but a mis-match between where they went and where recipients were positioned. Fancy tricks too late.
Molesley – put in a decent shift.
Arter – tried hard to set things in motion. Hopefully might learn from the 2nd goal.
Pugh – sometimes looked good.
Taylor – tried to be a nuisance but contained fairly easily.
Lovell – quicker in the head than in the legs, but that’s no good when having to start 40 yards out. Took goal well.
Baudry – ran around like a headless chicken (looked like it especially once the bandage was on).
Stockley – might as well play him instead of Taylor or Doble in spite of the rumoured attitude (Big I Am) problem.
Purches – minute (in both senses) cameo in midfield just for an outing. Should’ve replaced Byrne after the 1st goal.
Bradbury – uphill task; jury’s out on whether he’s up to it.
Garry – needs to have long hard sessions as defensive coach.
Anyway, what’s a Premiership club doing in the Football League Cup (OK, now known as the Carling Cup)? They can’t have it both ways. Either turn our backs on the origins so it can accommodate premiership clubs (perhaps this was done when a particular sponsor came on board some time ago), or revoke this Premiership nonsense so that it can return to being the FLC proper. Else – limit it to the 72 League clubs. (Bitter & twisted old traditionalist…)
Arter always looked for openings & worked hard, as did Molesley. Lovell did what he could with moderate service. But it goes to Malone for being the best home player.
AFCB: Flahavan, Byrne, Cooper, Barrett, Malone, Feeney, Molesley, Arter, Pugh, Lovell, Taylor
Subs: Jalal, Cummings, Ward, Fletcher, Baudry (for Molesley, 61 mins), Stockley (for Taylor, 75 mins), Purches (for Lovell, 89 mins)