• Albion 2 - 1 MK Dons, 07.11.2015

    So. Game 16 of this remarkable season. Game 17 of an unbeaten run stretching back to the spring. The opportunity for this side to make history, in the Amex's 100th league match. The opponents - chubby Scouse narcissist Karl Robinson's MK (should not be called) Dons.

    If there were any nerves, any thoughts of 'surely the traditional Albion will resurface soon', they were pretty much immediately allayed. Barely had people sat down after a slightly confused, but nonetheless respectful moment of remembrance, when the Albion were in front.

    A raid down the left from the busy Jamie Murphy, led to a corner. After Dale Stephens' inswinger was met unconvincingly by Lewis Dunk, the ball broke to the edge of the box, whereupon Solly March let fly first time, with a ferocious left foot drive that was still rising as it rocketed past Martin's right ear and into the (not) Dons' net. As clean a strike as the ground has seen in the previous 99. Absolute beauty.

    The (not) Dons were all over the place. The Albion's two wide men were running them ragged - first Murphy from the left, for Tomer Hemed to head wastefully wide - then March embarrassing Dean Lewington before firing over the bar.

    There was one scare at the other end, Uwe Hunemeier's slip, leaving Nicky Maynard clean through on goal, only for the striker to lose his own footing, and punch the turf in frustration.

    20 minutes in, the home side were two up - a good move fed Sam Baldock on the edge of the box, and his blocked shot fell to Murphy 12 yards out, to side foot into the corner. The game looked over before it had barely begun. From here it would simply be a case of how many.

    Or not.

    As a long ball reached Maynard, Dunk allowed him way too much space to turn, and the former West Ham man struck a great low drive, low to Stockdale's left. As surprising as the setback was, it barely knocked the Albion from their swagger.

    March slalomed through the defence - his cross cleared off the line - Hemed's reaction follow-up, over the bar from 6 yards. The Israeli striker then returned the favour, laying the ball back for March to hit a sweet drive, a foot over the bar.

    The same two players combined yet again just before the break, March's twinkling feet, and low cross - Hemed looked to have got this one just right, side footing first time, tucking it against the inside of the post. Such is Hemed's luck right now, that instead of nestling in the net, the ball ricocheted across the goal - then to compound it, the number 10 headed the resulting cross wide.

    At half time the crowd were in good spirits. Finally, surely, we were to enjoy a relaxing, comfortable stroll to victory. The kind of win that teams at the summit get to enjoy. The opposition were desperately poor. Extra special mention goes to their number 14, Samir Carruthers, who was hilarious. When he wasn't falling over, he was passing the ball purposefully to the ball boys. When he wasn't giving the ball away, he was jogging about aimlessly. His finest moment came just before the break, when brilliantly he somehow managed to turn a simple ball into his feet, into a hand-ball above his head. Genius.

    The Albion, magnificent as the current run has been, don't do strolls. They continued to dominate possession, but without matching the threat of the first period. Baldock pulled up lame, and went off to a standing ovation from his former fans in the away end. Bobby Zamora jogged on in his place, his mere presence seemingly upsetting referee Mr Whitestone, who decide Saint Bobby, was not the saviour, but in fact, a very naughty boy.

    As the Albion threat subsided, MK began to grow in belief, and on two occasions looked set to chalk up an improbable equaliser. Even Carruthers was transformed, and started to look less terrible. He ran after a long ball, down the right of the Albion box, only to be felled by a scything, sliding tackle from Dunk, that looked yards from the round thing. For heaven's sake Dunk. Stonewall penalty.

    Hang on, Mr Whitestone has signalled a corner! Really? Carruthers knelt pleading in front of the ref, punching the ground with both fists. His manager looked fit to explode, and his team-mates surrounded the man in black. Mr Whitestone held them away, but agreed to go and consult with his assistant, who had witnessed Dunk's catastrophic lunge from 10 yards away, and would surely tell him to reverse his call. Incredibly not - the only two people in the stadium who felt the Albion player had made a fair challenge, were the two that mattered.

    That should have shaken the Seagulls from any complacency, but moments later another huge let off. Former Withdean loanee Dean Bowditch's good work in the box was ended by Bruno, but the bearded Spaniard succeeded only in teeing up Carruthers whose fierce low drive was arrowing into the bottom corner, until Stockdale's right boot and terrific reflexes saved the day.

    You can never relax when your team is just a goal up, especially when they are spurning chance after chance to wrap things up. Beram Kayal side-footed tamely at a defender when Zamora set him up. Elvis Manu came off the bench, and continued to confound. This lad has played for Holland u21s and been voted the second best young player in their top division. Let's hope the real Elvis enters the building soon, because this one is entertaining but very limited. He runs fast, in straight lines, but his pretence of being a footballer looks less convincing once a ball is involved.

    Elvis passed up three presentable opportunities to finish the game, before the Albion were indebted to Liam Rosenior, whose lunging block of Maynard's shot, snuffed out the final danger at the other end.

    Whilst the away bench were understandably furious over the penalty shout, Robinson's assertion that his side had 'not deserved to lose the game' was textbook Karl delusion.

    So onwards the undefeated Albion roll. Whatever the rest of the season holds, we can all be justly proud of the side's achievements so far.

    When the team run out at Burnley on November 22nd, it will be an astonishing 211 days since they tasted defeat. Amazing scenes.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Dick Knights Mumm's Avatar
      Dick Knights Mumm -
      From the North Stand the direction of the ball after the "tackle" made us assume he had got the ball. I suspect that was the confusion. And man alive ........ that was a clean strike. A ball being struck like that is one of the pleasures of the game.
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