Tino Anjorin 2 Jed Wallace 2 at the John Smith Stadium on Saturday proved to be West Brom forced to share the spoils after falling two goals behind Huddersfield Town.
It hasn’t been a particularly happy hunting ground for Albion in recent years – in fact, the recent meeting coincided with a tragic result and a miserable away game – but this game proved to be an example if The referee at the end of the game is what you want it to be.
Steve Bruce, booked for protests, will suffer a familiar setback on the road, with Albion now heading to Wigan still needing their first away win of the season in any competition.
Here are the talking points.
Albion really can’t afford too many shows like this on a personal level. They were going too slowly, and by the time they really got into their stride, they were already two goals behind.
There is no doubt that if Albion started the first half the way they did the second, they would have won this game easily, in my opinion. However, handing over a two-goal lead left the players with plenty to do and the hosts to have the initiative.
Scoring before halftime was key, and the momentum continued in the second quarter, but the Baggies weren’t capable of taking away many underperforming players at once – and here they have Wallace, John Swift and Gray to thank Dee Diangana, but elsewhere their lack of depth was exposed.
Albion has won 3 of their last 22 away games in all competitions. They have lost 14 games, dating back to their slaughter against Cardiff City about a year ago. It proved to be the pinnacle of Valerian Ismail’s dominance, the last game before the first defeat and the start of a slide that lasted more than three months.
During that time, Ismail’s Albion struggled very much on the road, only beating Coventry and leaving the Hawthorns. Since Bruce took over, his only victories have been at Hull City and Reading, the latter especially the deadliest rubber.
Despite a pre-season run, the introduction of some key personnel in the transfer window, and a system that has been built and stuck to, those woeful away blues have persisted into the season and must be addressed urgently.
Bruce wasn’t amused, Grant wasn’t amused, neither were any of his teammates. Even rivals owner Dennis Corfield mocked his team’s fate, with referee Andy Davis inexplicably pointing to the spot when Albion’s centre-forward was knocked out by Will Boyle.
Crossing your man’s back is a big no-no in modern football, let alone in the box, and collective breathing after the challenge is palpable – you feel like everyone on the pitch is waiting Referee Davis awards a penalty.
Bruce had to be careful what he said after the game, but the frustration was understandable – it was quite blatant indeed. Bruce wasn’t particularly impressed by the officer’s explanation of why he didn’t provide — his view of the event was blocked — but couldn’t his assistant, uh, assist?
Albion, in the balance of the second half, would also be a decent value for the win.
transfer of benefits
Anjorin’s finish and the overall impact on the game will be crucial for Huddersfield. The midfielder was on loan at the John Smith Stadium for the second half of last season, and they have also brought in the likes of Levi Colwell and Emile Smith Rowe in recent years.
Loaning young players from the Premier League in the early stages of the summer transfer window paid dividends for the Beagles on Saturday – something Albion has so far failed to do as a club.
Patience is required, of course, but missing goals from forwards like Keinan Davis and Liam Delap didn’t help the title rival. Being hurt by a player on loan from a top-six club in the Premier League won’t do much for patience either.
The next few days are big for Albion, they need at least three players – there must be enough business.