City Taught A Lesson By The Baggies
The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
21 November 2009, 15:00
City's seven-match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at a rain-soaked Hawthorns as we were taught a harsh lesson by a rampant West Brom side.
Johnson debatably choose to bring back Jamie McCombe into a 3-5-2 formation with Cole Skuse once again asked to fill the void out on the right. Alvaro Saborio was the one man to make way with Danny Haynes partnering Nicky Maynard in attack.
The Robins started brightly in the slippery conditions and should have opened the scoring on 2 minutes.
Paul Hartley sent Maynard scampering away before squaring it to Skuse who saw his goalbound effort blocked on the line by Zuiverloon with Scott Carson out of the picture.
From the resulting break, Jerome Thomas strode down the left wing, weaving his way towards the box before firing into the bottom left-hand corner, beating Gerken down at his near post (3).
Considering the Baggies are yet to lose after taking the lead in the league this season, the writing was on the wall from the start.
Saying that, McCombe responded by working Carson with a glanced header from a McAllister free-kick before Albion banged in a second on 12 minutes.
Left-back Joe Mattock long pass was expertly brought down by Chris Brunt before skipping around Dean Gerken and slotting home to double the advantage.
City's initial 3-5-2 was subsequently scuppered by an injury to Jamie McAllister, who made way for Gavin Williams as Johnson switched to a 4-4-2> Lewin Nyatanga and Evander Sno were asked to man the left. More sqaure pegs in round holes.
Maynard warmed Carson's gloves with a long range effort ten minutes later before Graham Dorrans shot wide from Brunt's pass when well placed.
City's best effort of the first half came just before the break when Sno's shot was blocked by Chilean international Gonzalo Jara.
We expected a Johnson 'hand grenade' at the break but clearly the players are immune to this after four years as the Baggies made it three immediately after the interval.
Zuiverloon's right-hand delivery found Simon Cox in space, who's lifted a cross-shot over Gerken and towards goal. Louis Carey tried in vain to clear it to safety only to slice it into his own net on 47.
Some 50 seconds later, the lively Cox got the goal his play deserved when he stabbed home sub Marek Cech's left wing cross (48).
The former Swindon man should have made it five following another impressive Zuiverloon pass only for Gerken to come to the rescue, not for the first time this season.
Danny Haynes had a great chance for a consolation when racing clear of the Albion defence only to shank his shot wide on 65.
Carson tipped over Paul Hartley's 25-yard free-kick before the game's moment of brilliance came in the dying stages.
Paul Hartley took aim with a free-kick from fully 30-yards and thumped his swerving strike into the top right-hand corner on 82 to complete a repeat of the scoreline the last time the two teams met on Boxing Day 2007.
WEST BROM 4-4-2: Carson, Zuiverloon, Olsson, Meite, Mattock (Cech 29), Brunt, Dorrans (Mulumbu 57), Jara, Thomas, Cox (Koren 78), Moore.
CITY 3-5-2: Gerken, Nyatanga, Carey, McCombe, McAllister (Williams 16), Hartley, Sno (Johnson 78), Elliott (Clarkson 78), Skuse, Haynes, Maynard.
REFEREE: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
A constant threat to the Baggies on a difficult afternoon if not a bit wasteful when chances came his way.
Dean Gerken 7
Cole Skuse 6
Jamie McAllister 5
Lewin Nyatanga 4
Jamie McCombe 5
Louis Carey 5
Marvin Elliott 4
Paul Hartley 6
Evander Sno 6
Nicky Maynard 5
Danny Haynes 7
Gavin Williams 5
Lee Johnson 6
David Clarkson 5
Got the formation wrong. Got the selection wrong. Set us up to be far too open. Needs to learn his best side, best shape and when to going for the jugular and when not to.
We needed to be resolute and hard to beat out there today but were cut open with ease.
Very impressed by the Italian. Had a team packed full of international's to call upon but still had the tactical nous to kill us early on in both halves to win the game.
They are the best team I've seen so far this season by a mile and they will win the league, barring disaster.
Beaten By The Best
Johnson keeps chirping on about us being top-two material this year but the reality is we were really shown what the benchmark is in this league today. Conditions didn't help us but we were lucky it wasn't a cricket score.