West Bromwich Albion 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
An entertaining Black Country Derby won by the visitors thanks to two breakaway goals will likely only be remembered for the actions of a few idiots in the stands who were responsible for the only disorder I have personally witnessed inside the Hawthorns in more than four decades of watching the Baggies.
The investigations will continue but I sincerely hope that any so-called “fan” that was involved in any disorder, either in the incident in the corner of the Halfords Lane Stand, or the scuffles that were seen in the opposite corner of the stadium, will be banned from attending football for life and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That includes those who rushed from the Birmingham Road End towards the Halfords Lane Stand hoping to exact some sort of revenge on visiting supporters. Furthermore, if those responsible for passing tickets in home stands to Wolves fans can be traced, they too should be banned from attending games. These idiots must be made an example of so that future incidents can be prevented.
But enough of the off-field incidents that will dominate headlines for a while, and are likely to have serious repercussions for the club, let’s move onto the football, as the match itself, at least for the first 75 minutes, was an interesting, hard-fought and close battle.
Corberán opted to play an extra midfielder in Nathaniel Chalobah rather than Tom Fellows in attack, and also put his faith in Josh Griffiths to continue as the cup goalkeeper. The extra midfielder allowed Yokuşlu to drop into the back line when Albion were out of possession and it made for a very effective defensive unit. Wolves are a decent side in good form, but they did not look like breaking Albion down and I felt the only way they would score would be on the break, which is exactly what they did.
Wolves are a very good side on the break and they showed it when Matt Doherty intercepted an attempted long corner to Jed Wallace and put Pedro Neto through. Townsend and Swift actually did well to get back to the Portuguese, but he managed to ride Swift’s challenge and fired a shot back into the near post that Griffiths was unable to reach.
Up to that point, it was Albion who had created the better chances but their lack of potency up front cost them once again. Over the entire game, the Baggies had slightly more of the ball, more shots and more corners, but it was Wolves’ quality in front of goal that told in the end.
Corberán’s plan continued into the second half, but he introduced Tom Fellows midway through the second half to inject some more potency to the Baggies attack. It made a difference and the hosts were looking more dangerous but Brandon Thomas-Asante, who generally had a good game, missed one of the best chances of the match when he fired a shot well over the bar after a cutback from Fellows. Not long after that, a ball over top put Cunha through for Wolves’ second and, when the game resumed after the long break, the energy had really gone from the game and it petered out.
There were some good performances all over the pitch from the Baggies, with Alex Mowatt the pick of the bunch for me, but Kipré, Bartley, BTA, Wallace and Furlong all put in good displays. It is encouraging that they matched a decent Premier League side in most aspects, with that clinical edge in front of goal, a deficiency we are well aware of, the main difference between the teams. A fit Daryl Dike and new loan signing, Callum Marshall, will hopefully help in that area, and I was encouraged by the performance overall.
So Albion’s 27-year home unbeaten run against Wolves has come to an end and they have exited the FA Cup. Much as I like the competition, I’m not sorry to miss out on an unattractive fifth round tie with Brighton and the Baggies can now focus on their primary goal of the season, promotion.