A thriller at Molineux saw Albion come from behind to win the first Black Country Derby in 9 years. Bragging rights secured once again, after the famous 5-1 demolition job in 2012.
Despite missing key players, Johnstone, Gallagher, Diangana and Grant through a mixture of Covid-19, suspension and injury it was Albion who started brightly. Matheus Pereira made it 1-0 from the spot in the 8th minute after Callum Robinson was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by Willy Boly.
However, Wolves hit back with two quick goals before half time to go in ahead at the break. Two sloppy goals, both from set pieces, an area Big Sam highlighted after the game needs addressing.
We’ve seen numerous times this season, Albion tend to collapse after going behind, but Allardyce’s half time team talk must’ve resonated with the team and they came out aggressively in the second half. Albion’s newly adopted ‘long throw’ tactic paid dividends again as Kyle Bartley linked up with centre-back partner Semi Ajayi to head home in the 52nd minute.Embed from Getty Images
Four minutes later, Robinson again was clipped in the area by a Wolves centre-half, this time Connor Coady the culprit. Pereira stuck his second penalty of the afternoon away to give Albion a 3-2 advantage with over half an hour to play.
West Brom saw the game out well and only had one real scare when Patrick Cutrone’s volley bounced over the bar deep into the second half. Bartley and Ajayi were immense at the back, putting their body on the line to ensure it was Albion heading back to the Hawthorns with all three points.
It was a performance that shouldn’t have come as a shock, the last seven days have been the first time Big Sam has really been able to work on a daily basis with the squad. Honourable mentions must also go to Robert Snodgrass, who impressed with his attitude and work rate on his debut; and of course the match winner, Matheus Pereira, whose crucial penalty was saved in the shootout at Blackpool but showed nerve and steel to score twice this afternoon.
The win keeps Albion 19th, on 11 points. But with this derby day delight behind them they can now look ahead to a season defining run of fixtures. From 19th Jan to 27th Feb, West Brom face West Ham, Fulham, Sheffield United, Burnley and Brighton.
Albion need to win at least three of those games to give themselves a real chance of Premier League survival; and with Big Sam eyeing up several new signings this month, let’s hope this can be a real turning point in West Brom’s season.
Player Ratings: Button (6), O’Shea (6), Ajayi (8), Bartley (8), Gibbs (6), Livermore (5), Sawyers (4), Snodgrass (7), Pereira (7), Grosicki (6), Robinson (7). Subs: Robson-Kanu (5), Furlong (5)
West Brom: Button; O’Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Gibbs; Livermore, Sawyers; Snodgrass, Pereira (Furlong 83′), Grosicki (Robson-Kanu 69′); Robinson
Subs (not used): Lonergan, Kipre, Peltier, Ivanovic, Krovinovic, Field, Edwards
Booked: Ajayi (36′)
Wolves: Patricio; Semedo, Boly, Coady (Ait Nouri 64′), Saiss; Dendoncker, Neves (Gibbs-White 60′), Moutinho (Cutrone 79′); Traore, Silva, Neto
Subs (not used): Ruddy, Kilman, Hoever, Vitinha, Shabani, Corbeanu
Booked: Dendoncker (73′), Silva (90′)
Referee: Michael Oliver