- January 10, 2012
Mark Brailsford is on a high
Own up, who thought the Albion would get thumped against Southampton? Me for one. With 11 players out and two youth team players starting (and one, Grant Hall, on the bench) I doubt there were many in The Amex predicting the fantastic result that transpired in this local derby match. One of the most delightful aspects of the day was the performance of Jake Forster-Caskey, starting up front for the first time at The Amex.
A lot of fans have been extolling the virtues of Forster-Caskey, especially those who have seen him play for the development squad. To see such a young player with that much time on the ball is fantastic. But to cap it all, Jake scored the first goal of the dramatic 3-0 outcome to set up the victory against, lest it be forgotten, the team at the top of the Championship.
The only astonishing feature of Ricky Lambert’s sending off was that it was the first of his career. His robust performances in the past show a very physical threat that has served ‘Saints well and would not look out of place in the Premier League. But the impressive striker seems to have a creative relationship with fair play. The two incidents at St Mary’s when the Albion lost 3-0, were scandalous as Lambert conned the ref for at least one penalty and should have been booked for two dying swan impressions that would have made Tom Daley blush in the Olympic high dive.
Lambert’s red card
It was with some relish that a baying Amex crowd informed Lambert of their opinion of his antics when the referee showed him a straight red card. It made a nice change to not be on the wrong end of a scandalous decision for a change. Other high points were the impressive displays of Steve Cook and Adam El-Abd at the back, both local lads who have graduated from the youth team.
Best goal of the season
Then to cap it all, young Grant Hall came on at left back and looked completely at home, not only in the unfamiliar full back role (he, like Cook, is a centre half by trade) but showed great understanding with some lovely interplay with Forster-Caskey playing like an old fashioned inside forward. If this is an Albion team struggling, I fear for a team who meet Gus’s men when we’re at full strength. While extolling the virtues of the team, what about that goal by Matt Sparrow, possibly the best goal seen at The Amex so far this season?
It was a fantastic strike to put the game beyond a clearly demoralised Southampton. So, what does Gus do now? He will have to do without captain Gordon Greer who was sent off for a stupid tussle with a Saint’s player with the ball nowhere near; surely a word or two from the coaching staff is needed for the frequently inspirational, yet sometimes over feisty Scot. Greer’s self-inflicted absence aside, factor in the success of Brezovan in goal, who surely cemented his place with that fantastic double save in the first half. Look out Bristol City! Glorious stuff.