Town 1-5 West Brom
Saturday, 14th Oct 2006 19:36
Out-classed Town fell to their heaviest home defeat in three years as West Brom left Portman Road with a 5-1 win. New Baggies boss Tony Mowbray will have been impressed as Kevin Phillips notched three and Diomansy Kamara scored two with the only reply a bizarre Chris Perry own goal.
The Blues lined-up with Billy Clarke handed a second start of the season, in place of Jon Macken who dropped to the bench. Alex Bruce also returned, but surprisingly at right-back in place of Sito rather than in his more usual centre-half role.
Darren Currie continued in the absence of Gavin Williams, who earlier in the day was spotted already back in training at Playford Road having undergone a hernia operation a fortnight ago.
There were few chances in the early stages of the game, Alan Lee shooting wide for the Blues from the edge of the box and Darren Carter's weak effort to Lewis Price the most notable.
On 20 Diomansy Kamara shot wide after a mis-clearance from Jason De Vos. At the other end, Billy Clarke tried an audacious overhead effort from a long throw but went well wide. West Brom broke quickly but Jason Koumas shot over.
The visitors had gained control of the midfield and were unlucky not to go in front when a freekick was played quickly to Kamara who sent a low ball across the six-yard box but no one was on hand to add the final touch.
But the Baggies' first goal wasn't too much longer in coming. Jason Koumas played a ball over the top for Kamara to chase. The Town defence appeared to be wrong-footed and Richard Naylor was unable to catch the Senegalese striker before he struck a low shot just inside Lewis Price's left-hand post.
The visitors could have been two-up in the 35th minute when a Darren Carter corner was knocked back into the middle by Martin Albrechtsen, but Kevin Phillips flicked the ball wide from close in.
Town were looking thoroughly disorganised at the back, couldn't keep hold of the ball in midfield and had failed to trouble Pascal Zuberbuhler between the sticks at the Greene King end of the ground.
Despite this, the Blues were back on terms in the 36th minute. Alan Lee flicked the ball on to Billy Clarke who was dispossessed, only for the clearance to cannon off Chris Perry, past Zuberbuhler and into the net, for the week's second softest goal.
But West Brom were back in front three minutes later. Jason De Vos was once again left pointing the finger at his fellow defenders as Kevin Phillips flicked Jason Koumas's freekick from the left into the net off Price's left post.
It could have been even worse for the Blues in injury time but Phillips headed Zoltan Gera's knock back over the bar.
Town simply had no answer to West Brom's quality, especially in midfield where Gavin Williams was again badly missed, while the shambolic defence looked likely to concede at any moment.
West Brom went further ahead in the 54th minute after Town had won a rare corner. A poor ball into the box from Darren Currie, who had by now switched flanks with Mark Noble, was easily take by Pascal Zuberbuhler who set his side on the attack. Koumas sent a brilliant 50-yard cross-field ball to Gera, who in turn crossed to the far post where Kevin Phillips nodded into the roof of the net. It was as well worked a goal as Portman Road has seen in a while.
Currie was immediately replaced with Bowditch, as Town switched to a 4-1-2-3 formation with Legwinski sitting behind Walton and Noble. Walton received a yellow card for a foul on Albrechtsen in the 55th minute.
Two minutes later, West Brom went further in front, Phillips playing Kamara in behind the Town defence and the former Portsmouth man taking the ball round Price before slipping it into the net.
The game almost boiled over in the 64th minute when Jonathan Greening went in high on Bowditch five yards outside the West Brom area. Naylor was particularly unimpressed with Chris Perry having a go at Bowditch while the striker was grounded, while most of the rest of the players indulged in a spot of pushing and shoving.
After consulting his linesman, referee Andy Woolmer showed Greening and Naylor yellow cards. Walton sent the freekick high and wide.
The game was over as a contest but Billy Clarke was still looking for a goal, making a weaving run through a number of defenders before almost playing in Dean Bowditch.
Bruce picked up a yellow card for a foul on Kamara, prior to Richards taking over from Walton, who seemed less than impressed to be replaced.
Legwinski shot over from some distance, then Noble sent a corner across the box but no one got a touch.
As the game moved towards injury time, Darren Carter had the ball in the net but some while after the flag had been raised and he received a yellow card for time-wasting.
There was almost a late goal for Town when Clarke crossed, Bowditch flicked the ball on but Alan Lee couldn't stab the ball beyond Zuberbuhler. Soon after, Mark Noble picked up an unnecessary booking for shooting at goal after the referee's whistle had blown for a freekick.
The icing was put on West Brom's cake in the closing moments when Kevin Phillips broke away on the right and lashed a shot across Price and into the net to complete his hat-trick.
Former Town skipper Tony Mowbray probably wore the biggest smile in the ground as the referee blew the final whistle, having seen a very accomplished performance from the side he takes control of from Wednesday. West Brom were by some distance the best team to have played Town this season.
The Blues were thoroughly taken apart and failed to manage even one shot on target throughout the game. The midfield battle was well and truly won by the visitors with Koumas outstanding.
At the back, the central defensive pairing of Naylor and De Vos once again looked very shaky, while Alex Bruce constantly drifted into the middle and rarely showed any attacking endeavour. Neither Lee nor Clarke made much headway up front, while the sooner Gavin Williams returns to add stability and a creative spark to the midfield the better.
Town: Price, Bruce, Harding, Naylor, De Vos, Walton (Richards 80), Legwinski, Currie (Bowditch 54), Noble, Lee, Clarke. Unused: Supple, Macken, Sito. Att: 22,581.
Photo: Action Images
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