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Hank shoots Skyler

WBA match report and player ratings

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I could only get tickets in the home end today, which was the first time I’ve been seated away from our own fans in a match. It was interesting to hear our fans in the view of the opposition and I thought we sang well overall. More notably I thought the WBA fans around me were really quiet, at no point did I feel this was a game of particular importance to them. They also seemed to love a pint/pie/**** break mid-game, although maybe I noticed this more as these people were impeding my view of the pitch. 

This afternoon really showed me how good the atmosphere at Carrow Road has been recently! 

WBA looked very strong in the opening 25, and were more than good for their 1-0 lead, we were penned in and under ridiculous pressure all over the pitch - as we had done to Derby a few weeks ago. They are a physical side and this often meant our cute passing game was broken down by their sheer determination and brute force in the midfield areas - we could not get into the game in this period. Krul in particular was having a torrid time with their press, and given their freakishly tall CBs, was rightly reluctant to go long. He was often restricted to lobbing to Lewis or Aarons on the wing which rarely came off (it literally didn’t once). At this stage it was apparent just how much we were missing Steipermann (dare I say more than Leitner?!) - we didn’t seem to have an outlet to take possession, hold off a challenge and secure the ball. 

However, the WBA dominance slowly started to turn as the half wore on, with their press losing its intensity (unsurprisingly) we grew into the match. Vrancic was at the heart of most of our good work - although he was sloppy on more than one occasion! Despite us seeing more possession in their half, there was little more than probing passages of play to show for it. However, this did develop nearer the end of the half, with Pukki producing a header and a good save from the keeper following Tettey’s neat cross for him, and Vrancic striking over from 25 yards in the play that followed. But that was it really - still an encouraging end to the half and I felt confident we would pick up even more in the second (as we always seem to).

After a nervy opening couple of minutes in the second half - with Krul producing a couple of good saves almost immediately after the kick off in between a flurry of corners. We again began to impose ourselves, this time we had picked up the tempo with more incisive passing. We were committing bodies forward and West Brom seemed happy to sit back and hit us in the counter (which they looked dangerous doing). With more of the ball in more threatening areas, Buendia became heavily involved and found himself all over the pitch - demanding the ball and linking the place nicely. Despite being in the ascendancy, we had not yet carved out a clear chance thus far in the half but I felt it would come. The WBA fans were beginning to grumble around me and it was their team’s turn to struggle in possession and fail to handle our press. 

Unfortunately, a short while later Buendia picked up a knock and was replaced with Srbeny. I would’ve preferred the swap for Cantwell who had been disappointingly off the pace so far after his excellent Portsmouth display - but obviously Farke’s hand had been forced. Srbeny had an instant impact, after a neat turn in possession he unleashed a shot from 20 yards out - the keeper did well to push it wide. Then, after their CB poorly headed a clearance, Pukki was in behind but badly fluffed what was a decent chance - much to the WBA fans amusement (and mine too actually, not sure what Pukki was intending at all).

It was around the 70 minute mark now, and it was West Brom’s turn to take control of possession for a good spell. Though, there was little threat in their possession, and they seemed content to maintain control and take the sting out of our momentum. We appeared to be running out of steam. Farke was quick to react to this, however, and on around 80 minutes, subbed on Rhodes and McLean for Cantwell and Lewis respectively - switching to a back 3 three (is it weird that Farke prefers Aarons at LWB than Lewis?). I have been a fan in recent weeks of this formation change when we need a goal as it nearly always guarantees one - unfortunately not always at the right end... 

I was more than pleased (although did my best to not express it) that the ball did nestle in the right end this time, with both subs combining nicely. A lovely first time cross in from McLean following a defensive clearance gave Rhodes the chance to sweep home for the deserved equaliser. A dream double substitution for Farke. At this stage I was expecting us to push for the winner, West Brom looked there for the taking. However I don’t think Farke shared my thoughts on this - as we preferred to run the clock down thereafter. The play that followed the goal was sloppy from both sides, with neither being able to take control in any meaningful way. 

However towards the end it was West Brom back in the ascendancy, our reluctance to push for the winner left us on the back foot. In stoppage time Krul produced a fine save low at his near post after a first time hit from a byline cut back - a shot I was sure was going in. The West Brom pressure continued with a number of corners and crosses into the box, until the whistle finally sounded.

A very good result overall. Given that first 25 minutes I’m extra pleased. We no doubt missed Leitner and Steipermann massively today. Klose we missed much less than I thought we would, I believe we will see Zimmermann and Godfrey together again at least against Birmingham. I’m feeling confident that we can take one of those auto spots. OTBC!

 

Player ratings

Krul - poor distribution, but excellent saves and looking more assured than ever. 8/10

Lewis - often left exposed on the wing as a result of our attacking midfield. Was not quite his usual attacking threat either - perhaps instructed due to the opposition. Still a solid display. 6.5/10

Zimmermann - looking very confident with the ball at the minute, he was also commanding defensively. 7.5/10

Godfrey - much more comfortable at CB, his pace also proved useful and prevented exposure to the counter attack/ball over the top on more than one occasion. Debatably at fault for the goal but I think it was more a good cross and good movement from Gayle than poor defending. 6.5/10

Aarons - see Lewis above. 6.5/10

Vrancic - kept things ticking over nicely and saw lots of the ball, he is our most creative player from deeper positions - but a bit too casual and sloppy sometimes. 7/10

Tettey - a pretty normal Tettey performance complete with a yellow card. Tettey/10

Buendia - grew into the game the longer it went on, until his injury. Love this guy’s aggression with and without the ball. Hope he’s back for Birmingham. 7.5/10

Cantwell - was happy with him starting after the Portsmouth game, but disappointed me; never established himself in the match at all, often conceded possession and rightly subbed off. I’m sure we will see more from him though. 5.5/10

Hernandez - not mentioned him yet, he was good when in possession but we struggled to get it to him often enough in threatening areas. Does not drift and demand possession the same way as Buendia. 6.5/10

Pukki - work rate was superb, involved in some good hold up play and also a lovely run and nut meg in the second half which unfortunately did not materialise. Like Hernandez however, he was often a bit isolated. 7/10

Rhodes and McLean - other than the goal they didn’t really have much of an impact - but that was how the game went after the equaliser! 7/10 for both 

Srbeny - looked okay, didn’t impose himself greatly into the game other than his turn and shot shortly after coming in. Think we can get more from him. 6/10

MOM - Krul

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👍 Hank. Good, balanced report. To me neither goal was the fault of the defenders, both equally deserved and both resulting from beautifully delivered near post crosses capitalised on by two astute finishers.

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An excellent match report Hank and pretty much how I saw the game. We sorely missed Steipermann, especially up against Hegazi, who's a monster and clearly needed shorts a couple of sizes bigger.

I'm not a massive Krul fan, but he kept us in it with some vital saves in the second half. Cantwell needs to spend the summer in the gym. Bulking up won't affect his pace as that's not his game but he was very easily shoved off the ball yesterday and lost possession in dangerous counter attacking areas. In fact the midfield looked a little lightweight with him and Vrancic, the latter uncomfortably wasteful in possession at times.

But overall I thought we battled really well and deserved something from the game. West Brom have some very good, solid, battle hardened players and imo had the best player on the pitch in Rodriguez, whose hold up play and distribution was very good. So to come away with a point with a weakened team was really creditable.

Time to back it up with a vital home win next week.

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An excellent match report Hank and pretty much how I saw the game. We sorely missed Steipermann, especially up against Hegazi, who's a monster and clearly needed shorts a couple of sizes bigger.

I'm not a massive Krul fan, but he kept us in it with some vital saves in the second half. Cantwell needs to spend the summer in the gym. Bulking up won't affect his pace as that's not his game but he was very easily shoved off the ball yesterday and lost possession in dangerous counter attacking areas. In fact the midfield looked a little lightweight with him and Vrancic, the latter uncomfortably wasteful in possession at times.

But overall I thought we battled really well and deserved something from the game. West Brom have some very good, solid, battle hardened players and imo had the best player on the pitch in Rodriguez, whose hold up play and distribution was very good. So to come away with a point with a weakened team was really creditable.

Time to back it up with a vital home win next week.

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Thanks for the report. It was amusing that one of our best chances came from a long ball from Krul, flicked on by their defender perfectly for Pukki who then of course fluffed his shot.

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Thanks for a well written report. I agree with all of it, particularly Cantwell who had a poor game against an experienced and powerful midfield. That's part of having a young team who will learn from games such as these. 

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Cantwell amazed me by his strength when he first appeared since, let's be honest, he did look a bit of a girl with that hair & all. He seems to have lost that lately unfortunately.

Tettey  gets Tettey/10! Love it!

 

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4 hours ago, Fuzzar said:

An excellent match report Hank and pretty much how I saw the game. We sorely missed Steipermann, especially up against Hegazi, who's a monster and clearly needed shorts a couple of sizes bigger.

I'm not a massive Krul fan, but he kept us in it with some vital saves in the second half. Cantwell needs to spend the summer in the gym. Bulking up won't affect his pace as that's not his game but he was very easily shoved off the ball yesterday and lost possession in dangerous counter attacking areas. In fact the midfield looked a little lightweight with him and Vrancic, the latter uncomfortably wasteful in possession at times.

But overall I thought we battled really well and deserved something from the game. West Brom have some very good, solid, battle hardened players and imo had the best player on the pitch in Rodriguez, whose hold up play and distribution was very good. So to come away with a point with a weakened team was really creditable.

Time to back it up with a vital home win next week.

Thanks Fuzzar, agree with that RE Cantwell. Although to be fair I don’t think he can be criticised too much, he was more than willing to put his body on the line against Portsmouth in possession, WBA were just a step above in terms of their physicality. I’m confident we’ll see more from him.

Also agree about Rodriguez, looked a quality player - surprised a prem club hasn’t come in for him!

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1 hour ago, Crabbycanary3 said:

Cheers Hank. Did any of the West Brom fans comment on us? If so, where do they place us, against themselves/other teams?

Not at all, I was sitting to the right of our fans which was probably the second ‘noisiest’ area of the home fans. Even so it was really quiet and I heard no comments on us and only a few on their own team. Rodriguez and Gayle were both popular and Sako was not liked at all! 

I would’ve enjoyed talking about both teams to them but was reluctant to give away my true allegiance.

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Good post & points Hank. Anyone else think Rodriguez’s challenge on 60mins was a definite red? Studs up and no where near the ball, surely a dangerous tackle - was so telegraphed as well. Could’ve changed the whole dynamic of the game for last 30 mins.

Overall good point in the end, but think we definitely need to win our next game!

OTBC 

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Excellent report, they have got some quality individuals left over from their Prem days but IMO a draw was fair over 90 mins

 

Krul was under massive pressure because they were obviously working hard to stop us playing it short and clearly he didn’t want to play it long down the centre . Oddly when we did that, as long as someone put in a challenge, we actually had a decent amount of success competing for the second ball, but there you go.

 

clearly Krul was instructed to play a high ball out to Aarons as his out ball which was difficult. Play it short and you risk a very dangerous interception in a threatening area. Hence he had to err on the side of caution and a few went straight into touch. Which is the same outcome as when you play a long ball down the centre which is won by a dominant CB. In fact the latter is worse because it’s predictable but football fans tend to whinge more about a goalie kicking the ball into touch, that just how it goes. 

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2 minutes ago, Woodlands4 said:

Good post & points Hank. Anyone else think Rodriguez’s challenge on 60mins was a definite red? Studs up and no where near the ball, surely a dangerous tackle - was so telegraphed as well. Could’ve changed the whole dynamic of the game for last 30 mins.

Overall good point in the end, but think we definitely need to win our next game!

OTBC 

It certainly looked to me like he went straight through the player with both feet and could easily have been a straight red. Ref was a bit of a homer imo 

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3 hours ago, ron obvious said:

Cantwell amazed me by his strength when he first appeared since, let's be honest, he did look a bit of a girl with that hair & all. He seems to have lost that lately unfortunately.

Tettey  gets Tettey/10! Love it!

 

Shouldn't have had that haircut. Ask Samson. 😉

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23 minutes ago, ......and Smith must score. said:

Shouldn't have had that haircut. Ask Samson. 😉

Too late for me to use that excuse.

Thanks for the report Hank. Nicely written and informative.

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Fair report I'd say.

We do lack physicality with this XI though and it showed when West Brom pressed high from goal kicks we didn't really have an out ball.

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yes, I think we really missed both Stiepermann and Leitner.  Stiepermann makes the long central ball more of an option, and the fact that we were clearly reluctant to play it allowed WBA to press very high up the field.  Leitner has the ability to play passes out from the back better than anyone else in our team and we all know how big he's been for us this season.  Given both those omissions, a point was not bad at all.

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