West Brom got off the mark today with a point in their game against Gary Megson`s Bolton Wanderers side. All the creativity belonged to the away team, but despite several good chances we could not make the onion bag bulge; we also had to withstand a late rally from Bolton in which two goals were thankfully, and correctly, ruled out for offside.
There was only one change from the team that went down at home to Everton, with a league debut for record signing Valero in place of Chris Brunt; Mowbray sticking with the 4-5-1 with Kim in the hole behind Miller. It was a fairly evenly paced first 20 minutes, then Morrison, who looked in much better nick than any of his previous outings this year, found a bit of space 25 yards from goal, looked up and struck a peach of a shot curling toward the top corner. Jaaskaleinen did a great impression of superman and diving at full stretch tipped it round the post. Minutes later Miller clashed with the Wanderers keeper and need treatment. Not long after that a lovely flowing move down the left from the Baggies presented Valero with a chance to open his account but he shot tamely at the big Finn.
Albion were very much the dominant force and Bolton were lucky to go in not only level, but also equal in numbers as Nolan and Davies were both guilty of suspect challenges toward the end of the half. Meite picked up a knock just before the whistle and was replaced at the start of the second half by Hoefkens, pushing Zuiverloon into the middle. Albion came out as they had gone in, and Miller should have scored when put through by Robinson but hit his shot over with the goalie beaten. Bolton picked up some impetus in the second half, and garnered a plethora of set pieces around the Albion box – one such kick saw Riga forcing a save from Carson that was equal to Jaaskaleinen`s in the first half.
Albion should have settled the game when Kim, who was again quality throughout, hit a thunderbolt from thirty yards only to see the ball bounce from the underside of the bar, on the line, then out again. Miller followed it up, and only he will know how he didn`t score, heading it straight into the arms of the grateful Bolton keeper. The last ten minutes saw Bolton twice get the ball in the net, both times through Davies, both times correctly ruled out for offside. Few would argue with Megson`s post match comments that the game could have been a 3-3 or a 3-2 either way, such were the chances.
Albion had the better of the match again, and with a point on the board can take heart from the performance. A striker coming in to partner the new centre back Olssen in giving the squad the final bit of competition would be great with a mere 48 hours of the transfer window left, though this midfield will create enough chances for our forwards to put away. Miller needs a goal, but I think when such an event does occur it`ll spur him on and he`ll get bunches. On a final note it was great to see the Baggies faithful singing to Megson after the match – and seeing the Ex Boss wave back.
Scott Carson 8/10
A very solid game from the young ‘keeper. Wasn’t particularly troubled in the first half, made several saves to rival the quality of Jussi’s in the second half. First clean sheet of the season, brilliant business.
Gianni Zuiverloon 7/10
Another classy performance from the Dutch defender. Looks like he need to do some work on the aerial side of his game, and came under pressure when moved into the middle after Meite got injured. Great reading of the game again, excellent ball control, and as has been said by Mowbray on several occasions, has a very bright future.
Abdoulaye Meite 7/10
3 games into the season and it looks like Meite has risen his game to the required levels. Had his hands full against former team-mate Kevin Davies, and coped admirably. Injured and withdrawn on 46 minutes for Marek Cech.
Leon Barnett 7/10
Solid, unspectacular, did the job.
Paul Robinson 7/10
VERY harshly booked for a fair tackle on the edge of the box. Positional awareness has developed over the summer, rarely found halfway up the pitch when other team attacks. Continues to encourage.
Borja Valero 6/10
Making his league debut at the expense of Brunt. Full of trickery, a class touch and good vision. Made way just before the hour, looks like he could develop into a cultured playmaker for us.
Bob Koren 6/10
Did the business, nothing more, nothing less. Came off for Sherjill with 20 to go as we tried to break the deadlock.
Jonno Greening 6/10
As above, came close to conceding a hand-ball penalty and was given benefit of the doubt.
James Morrison 7/10
By far his best performance in the stripes so far this season. Only a wondersave courtesy of Jussi kept out his 25 yard screamer.
Kim Do-Heon 8/10
Another exemplary performance from Kim. What a bargain. Was also unlucky not to get a goal; crisp technique in striking his long ranger only to see it come off the underside of the bar. It’s great to see talent like this in the Albion team, coupled with work rate. Great performer so far.
Ish Miller 5/10
Very fine line between success and failure in this league. Two chances on another day he could have buried and got a 9. Needs a goal, but when it comes the floodgates could open – he’s getting into the right places and creating the opportunities.
Carl Hoefkens 6/10
On for the injured Meite and under significant pressure was part of the clean sheet defence. Tells you all you need to know.
Marek Cech 6/10
Versatility counting against him as he’s getting asked to fill gaps. Also still getting to grips with English game – no doubts as to his ability though.
Getting minutes on the pitch, and showing glimpses of what Mowbray must see in training week-on-week to rate him so highly. Needs a goal (obviously applicable to the rest of the forwards).
Mowbs – 7/10
Can’t be blamed for Miller’s profligacy in front of goal. Can for not playing another foward. Excellent creativity through the middle and goals aside we’re looking like a Premier League side. Goals matter.
Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Andrew O’Brien, Shittu, Samuel, Joey O’Brien (Riga 14), McCann, Muamba, Gardner, Nolan, Davies. Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Helguson, Vaz Te, Dzemaili, Fojut.
West Brom (4-4-1-1)
Carson, Zuiverloon, Meite (Hoefkens 46), Barnett, Robinson, Borja Valero (Cech 58), Koren (MacDonald 70), Greening, Morrison, Kim, Miller. Subs Not Used: Kiely, Bednar, Brunt, Moore.
Keith Stroud (Hampshire)