• Albion v Bournemouth, 13.04.2019

    Where to start? How do you begin to document, or even start to explain, such an abject, horrible capitulation - just seven days on from one of the club’s proudest days in recent times. That largely the same groups of players, a week on from being lauded for their efforts at Wembley by 35,000 Albion fans, slunk from pitch, to escape the furious disappointment of a near emptied Amex, simply beggars belief.

    The Albion team news had been met with general satisfaction from the fans - Andone in for Murray had been the clamour. With Locadia and Knockaert making up a front three, plenty of pace and no little intent. Pretty positive on paper.

    It easy to forget, given what was to come, but the home side started quite brightly. The better of the opening exchanges, at the right end. The Albion got the ball wide, got at the full backs - Ake in the book very early - and got a succession of dangerous low balls into the box. All came to little though, and the visitors soon established themselves in the contest.

    The best early spell of Albion pressure evaporated when Andone stretched, but failed to reach, Pröpper’s delicious curling cross, and that was as good as the day got. Minutes later Bournemouth took the lead - Gosling rolling the ball home from 8 yards, after his team mates had calmly passed the ball amongst themselves in the 18 yards box, unhindered by anything much in the way of defending.

    Nothing much to report from the remainder of the first period, and not a lot of magic conjured up in the dressing room at the interval. Into he second half - North Stand up angrily as one, after a confrontation between Florin Andone and John Stones lookalike Mepham leaves the Romanian holding his face. Just like at Wembley last week, an Albion player punished for refusing to milk the contact by rolling about on the floor.

    The half meandered along for a bit, until Knockaert played an inexplicably poor pass on half way, to gift up possession with the Albion high up the field. 10 seconds later, thousands of heads in hands, watching horrible little snide Ryan Fraser celebrating a terrific goal in front of the away fans. One sloppy pass, ruthlessly punished - oh how I’d like to see such pace and intent from the good guys now and again. Decent player Fraser, in truth, incessant shameless cheating, aside.

    At two goals down, Hughton sent on Murray for an increasingly angry Andone, after a barge into Mepham had seen him right on the edge of a second yellow. Jose Izquierdo on too - Pröpper sacrificed after an unusually poor showing. The visitors content to sit back on their comfortable lead now, meaning constant Albion possession. Whilst not coming close to troubling Boruc in the Cherries’ goal, we were still in this game. Just a set piece, a soft penalty or a bit of luck away from staging an undeserved comeback.

    And then in one pathetic angry moment, the game was up. The Albion’s best move of the game released Locadia into the box. The Dutchman squared, invitingly for Murray- but a Bournemouth foot reached the ball first, and the ball broke loose. As Bournemouth’s Adam Smith let the ball roll across him, to clear, Anthony Knockaert’s frustration exploded into a ridiculous, unforgivable flying assault, that saw him inevitably dismissed to angry words from BOTH sets of players.

    Within just one week, petulant little high-maintenance French genius Knockaert, has been Man of the Match against a billion pound team at Wembley, received the Premier League Goal of the Month award for an absolute beauty at our arch rivals, and now thrown a game and picked up a ban for three crucial matches, for acting like an angry spoiled child, throwing his PlayStation controller at the TV. Anthony Knockaert, ladies and gentlemen.

    The tragi-comic final half hour was surreal. An Albion team visibly gave up in front of us, jogging about and ducking tackles. Bournemouth walked in a simple third, followed by an embarrassing fourth, and a humiliating fifth - the stadium emptying by another 10% with each passing blow.

    We stayed until the end. Not out of duty. Not to boo - hadn’t even the enthusiasm for that, by the end. Not sure what to make of it to be honest. Somehow I was more annoyed after Burnley, because we could have won that game, or after Saints, because it was just the one soft goal. This was almost darkly funny. It also means there can be no cruising, deluding ourselves that it is fine margins, or that the performances are okay and the results will come. They absolutely won’t, with any repeat of this shocking effort.

    With Newcastle, Saints and Burnley (thank God) winning over the weekend, it is down to just Cardiff and Brighton to fight over the last relegation place. Tuesday’s game now almost a play-off for the drop. We go into it with no goals in 4 games, no momentum, and little belief. A huge 48 hours off the pitch in advance of a massive game. There will no doubt be harsh words, fallings out and angry finger pointing. I hope there is. Something has to shake them up, because the game will undoubtedly be an ugly, bruising test of character, that they currently look ill-prepared for.

    It really shouldn’t have come to this.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. GT49er's Avatar
      GT49er -
      Excellent. Only followed it on social media, and saw the lowlights on MOTD, but that sums it all up for me. For the first time, I'm worried about relegation now - I thought we had enough opportunities (well, five actually) at home to steer clear. Now we've lost the first three of tem on the trot. bad news....................
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