Baggies bid to give themselves one more game

Southampton v West Bromwich Albion; St Mary’s Stadium, Friday 17th May 2024, 8pm

I said in my preview to last Sunday’s game that Albion should fear neither failure nor their opponents, and my feelings are the same after a tight hard-fought first leg. Southampton remain the favourites with the advantage of being at home for the second leg, but there was very little between the sides at the Hawthorns with Albion arguably edging it on chances, and the pressure will all be on the hosts on Friday night. There is a very real chance that Corberán’s team can earn themselves one more game.

Carlos Corberán’s team showed enough in the first leg to have the confidence that they can hurt Southampton and, on another day, they could have easily come away with a slender lead. Having said that, the Saints had their own chances and they may well be boosted by the return of Ché Adams who wasn’t fit enough to be involved on Sunday. The former Blues striker is undoubtedly a threat and offers complementary skills to top scorer, Adam Armstrong, with his physicality and height. The Baggies haven’t seen much of him this season having played only the last 25 minutes of the first game in November, but I would hope that Kipré and Bartley can cope with him.

There is a chance that Albion could welcome a striker back to the squad in the shape of Josh Maja. Although he has been injury free since Easter, the former Sunderland man is struggling to regain his match fitness and has only made a couple of brief cameo appearances for the first team. Corberán has been keeping everyone guessing this week as to whether he will be in the squad, but I, personally, would be surprised to see him – perhaps, if his finishing has been spectacular in training this week, he might be on the bench to be used as a last throw of the dice should Albion need a goal late on.

I am not expecting to see any change to the starting line up barring any niggles picked up in the week. I think the eleven that started on Sunday is our strongest line up at present. It’s possible to make a case for Wallace to start in place of either Fellows or Brandon Thomas-Asante, but the choice is clear for me.

I have said in the past few weeks that I have struggled to choose between Wallace and Fellows on the right, but after Sunday’s game, I would go with Fellows – I just feel that he has that something special to make things happen that Wallace just doesn’t have. In the centre, BTA looks far more natural and, while he may have missed one or two chances, he is still our top scorer and has scored plenty of goals he probably shouldn’t have. Wallace is a good option from the bench and, if he started, I wouldn’t mind too much, but I would stick with last Sunday’s starting line up.

Unsurprisingly, all the news coming out of the camp is positive and the squad have every reason to believe that they can get to Wembley. It will be a tough game, it will be tight, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it went all the way to penalties, but it is one that everyone involved with West Bromwich Albion, us fans included, should relish.

I’m excited more than nervous because, irrespective of the result, Carlos Corberán and the players have given us a great season and, with the new owners installed, the future is bright. Promotion this season is not essential, but I will be giving my all on Friday night to support the team and I’m sure that the team will be giving their all to give us the result we want.

One. More. Game.

Play Off Second Leg History

Before this season, only one of Albion’s play-off first legs had finished all square, with Albion having been behind in two and ahead in one. The first leg that ended in a draw was the only one before the current campaign that had been at the Hawthorns, but that was a very different game which the Baggies had led 2-0 at one point. Southampton may be favourites for Friday’s game, but neither side has gained any additional momentum from the first game.


19th May 1993 remains, for me, the best atmosphere I have experienced at the Hawthorns – having not been present at any of the great nights in the late seventies (or earlier), the second leg against Swansea City was a pinnacle of noise and electricity that may never be bettered. The Birmingham Road End was still an all standing terrace that was undoubtedly moving under the bouncing of the boinging Baggies fans, and I wonder if they discovered any resultant damage when it was demolished just over a year later.

Despite a poor performance and result in the first leg, the home fans were expectant and very, very loud. They spurred the team on to a very fast start and the hosts overturned the aggregate score inside twenty minutes – like on Sunday, Albion attacked the Brummie in the first half and both goals went in at that end. The first was made by Bob Taylor and and finished at close range by Andy Hunt. Taylor almost got within one of WG Richardson’s club record goal tally a few minutes later, but Freestone touched the ball around the post. From the resulting corner, Ian Hamilton advanced into the box and found the net from a tight angle to make it 2-0 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate.

Ossie Ardiles may have introduced a footballing style to the Baggies, but they retained a hard edge as was necessary in the third tier at that time. None in the Albion squad were harder than Micky Mellon and he “left one on” a Swansea defender even before the first goal and earned a yellow card – it would have been a borderline red today! Nine minutes into the second half, he lunged into a challenge on Russell Coughlin way over the top of the ball catching the Swans midfielder above the knee – it would have been an automatic red card today without a doubt, and on the night earned the Scotsman his second yellow card.

Albion had been in complete control of the tie and could easily have scored two or three more goals but the tie was suddenly in the balance again with the hosts down to ten men. As it turned out, Ardiles’ team coped well with one man less and continued to create chances and the tie turned back in their favour with 17 minutes left. Former Albion striker, Colin West, had come off the bench and didn’t appreciate a sliding challenge from Ian Hamilton and stamped on the Baggies midfielder as he slid past him, earning a straight red card from referee, Alan Gunn.

The Baggies comfortably saw out the remainder of the game and then came a pitch invasion by jubilant fans celebrating in the knowledge that Albion were returning to Wembley for the first time in 23 years. The noise at the final whistle was like nothing I have heard at the Hawthorns before or since.


After losing a 2-0 lead in the first leg, there was little optimism as Albion travelled to Bolton for the second leg. There had been little expectation of a top six finish after losing the first three games of the season, and the Trotters had finished on 87 points that season, some 13 more than Albion.

The lack of expectation turned out to be well placed as Sam Allardyce’s Wanderers eased to victory – Bergsson opened the scoring after 10 minutes and Ricardo Gardner’s second just after the hour mark sealed the tie. Michael Ricketts added a third in the final minute and Bolton went to Wembley, where they beat Preston North End by the same scoreline.


After a 3-2 win in the first leg, Albion were confident of progressing to the final. The hosts dominated the match but it remained goalless in the first half and there was always the fear that Wolves would nick something and force extra time. But twenty minutes after the break, Robert Koren put across a wonderful cross onto Kevin Phillips’ head and the Dingle Destroyer scored his third goal of the tie and his sixth goal in three games having scored a hat trick on the final day of the season.

There was still time for Sam Sodje to give the home faithful a few palpitations when he deflected a ball wide of Dean Kiely and had to scurry back to clear it off the line, while both Koren and Kamara had chances to extend the lead but came up against Wayne Hennessey in fine form. It finished 1-0, 4-2 on aggregate, and Albion were on their way to the new Wembley Stadium for the first time.


It’s hard to believe that what was a memorable if ultimately unsuccessful night at the Hawthorns in May 2019 is actually five years ago and that we have had a pandemic in between, so fresh is it in the memory. It’s difficult to argue against the suggestion that Graham Scott’s decision to give Dwight Gayle a second yellow card in the closing stages of the first leg proved to be decisive, but Albion could easily have progressed through to the final.

The best atmosphere at the Hawthorns since that Swansea game in ’93 spurred the Baggies to a great start and they squared the tie inside half an hour. Mason Holgate, the latter-day Darnell Furlong, launched a long throw into the box and Craig Dawson rose to nod the ball into the corner of the net. In the second half, it was Albion who had the majority of the clear chances with Jacob Murphy having an effort cleared off the line, Matt Phillips nodding over from close range and Chris Brunt firing a 20-yard effort just wide.

The game then turned on another red card when Brunt received a second yellow card for a challenge on John McGinn with ten minutes left. Sam Johnstone produced a wonderful save to deny Adomah in the last minute of normal time and the game went into extra time. Unsurprisingly, Villa dominated with the extra man but Albion held out for penalties with Sam Johnstone facing his old club in the shootout.

It was the other ‘keeper who sparkled, however, as he saved from both Holgate and Hegazi to leave Albion 2-0 down after two penalties each. Tosin, Gibbs and Morrison scored the remaining three but Adomah was the only Villa man to miss, blazing over, and Tammy Abraham scored the decisive spot kick to send the Villains to Wembley, and ultimately the Premier League.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion W L L L W D
Southampton W L L L W D

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

12 May 2024 – League Championship Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg
West Bromwich Albion 0
Southampton 0

Last meeting at Southampton

11 Nov 2023 – League Championship
Southampton 2 (Smallbone, A Armstrong)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Bartley)

Last win

12 Apr 2021 – Premier League
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Pereira (pen), Phillips, Robinson)
Southampton 0

Last win at Southampton

31 Dec 2016 – Premier League
Southampton 1 (Long)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Phillips, Robson-Kanu)

Albion’s Record against Southampton

Overall Away
League 75 24 22 29 84 90 37 4 13 20 35 60
FA Cup 9 1 3 5 9 16 5 1 0 4 5 11
Total 84 25 25 34 93 106 42 5 13 24 40 71

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