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10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Histon 1 West Bromwich Albion 1

It was perhaps fitting that West Bromwich Albion's first pre-season encounter of the 2007-8 campaign came under the shadow of a stand undergoing major rebuilding work.

For the Baggies are themselves presently undergoing a period of major reconstruction following the sale of their major players Jason Koumas and Diomansy Kamara.

Albion's visit to the sleepy little village of Histon on the outskirts of Cambridge underlined the gulf in facilities between the Blue Square Premier side and the Championship.

Histon players on average pick up between three and four hundred pounds a week and many are part-timers. Albion's Championship stars, meanwhile, pick up significantly more than that.

Albion manager Tony Mowbray chose to start both his new acquisitions, defender Shelton Martis and former Celtic striker Craig Beattie, while there were also first-team debuts for youngster Jack Compton and 17-year-old midfielder David Worrall, who was signed from Bury last week.

It was Albion who stole the all-important early goal. In the third minute Compton, who signed professional forms only last week after joining the Albion academy from Portsmouth, floated in a perfect corner which striker John Hartson, making his return to the starting line up, had no trouble in heading home.

Kevin Phillips, Albion's top scorer last season, then saw his shot just graze the fingertips of Daniel Naisbitt in the Histon goal in the 11th minute and minutes later he was setting up Hartson again but this time the former Celtic man was unable to convert his chance.

The Stutes then thought they were level on 18 minutes following a goalmouth scramble but referee Mick Thorpe instead awarded them a penalty after judging Albion new boy Martis had handled the ball.

Adrian Cambridge, in an unfamiliar role as Histon penalty-taker, then stepped up to the mark but his weak effort was easily saved by Dean Kiely.

Histon keeper Naisbitt then left the field, to be replaced by Mark Osbourn, who did not have to wait long before feeling the pressure when Hartson smashed the ball against his left post.

In the last period of the half, Histon had more than their fair share of chances with captain Jamie Barker squandering the easiest effort but Craig Beattie, Albion's £1 million signing from Celtic, then fired his shot straight into the arms of Osbourn.

At half time, Mowbray chose to change the entire Albion starting 11, underlining the fact that he plans to make the most of pre-season to assess his squad and see where he can strengthen with the £11 million he now has from the sale of those key players.

Histon boss Steve Fallon chose to go three at the back in the second half and made six substitutions of his own and within seconds the gamble paid off as Okay crossed for Antonio Murray to poke it home, 1-1.

Histon then enjoyed a spell of some domination with Matthew Mitchell-King going close to stealing a goal only to be denied by Stewart Nicholson, who cleared his effort off the line in the 61st minute.

Histon continued to press forward to try to steal all the headlines for themselves.

At the other end, Nicholson had perhaps a glimmer of hope of scoring for Albion but the ball got caught between his feet and those of the defender while Daniels, in the Baggies goal, was forced to make an 86th-minute save from trialist Phil Bell.

HISTON (4-4-2): Naisbitt (Osbourn), Hanniver (Okay), Mitchell-King (Hipperson), Ada, Gwilliam (Coulson), Bradshaw (Nightingale), Cambridge, Kennedy, Barker (captain) (Knight-Percival), Akurang (Bell), Wright (Murray).

ALBION (4-3-3): Kiely (Daniels), Albrechtsen (Mason), Compton (Hodgkiss), McShane (Manchester), Martis (Davies), Chatlow (Labadie), Greening (captain) (Carter), Worrall (Nardiello), Beattie (Nicholson), Hartson (Ellington), Phillips (MacDonald).

Referee: Mick Thorpe (Ipswich)
Attendance: 1,245.

Craig Beattie

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Total football for Albion

TONY Mowbray is preparing his Albion players for a footballing binge during their tour of Croatia and Slovenia.

The Baggies flew out of Gatwick today for their pre-season trip to the former Yugoslav republics.

Mowbray's men will take on Hajduk Split in Croatia tomorrow and then travel across the border to Slovenia for several days of training and a match against Serbian giants Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) next Wednesday.

One of Mowbray's predecessors, Gary Megson, used to send his players off for long runs during pre-season, making them wait up to a fortnight before allowing them to start any ball work.

Full 21-man tour squad:

Dean Kiely, Luke Daniels, Martin Albrechtsen, Paul McShane, Shelton Martis, Curtis Davies, Jared Hodgkiss, Paul Robinson, Jonathan Greening, Richard Chaplow, Darren Carter, Robert Koren, Zoltan Gera, Ronnie Wallwork, David Worrall, Craig Beattie, Kevin Phillips, John Hartson, Nathan Ellington, Stuart Nicholson, Sherjill MacDonald.

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Last week: Hajduk - West Brom 0:0

Red Star Belgrade 1-1 West Brom

A late Dragan Stanic strike denied West Brom victory in Wednesday's pre-season friendly against Red Star Belgrade.
West Brom handed on-loan striker Sherjill MacDonald his first senior start and defender Shelton Martis made his second start in a new-look line-up.

MacDonald and Zoltan Gera missed early chances before Paul Robinson headed the Baggies into a 19th-minute lead.

But Belgrade hit back two minutes from time when Stanic beat keeper Dean Kiely with a superb free-kick from 25 yards.

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Mowbray hails successful Balkan tour

ALBION's pre-season tour of the Balkans has been hailed a success by Tony Mowbray.

But the Baggies boss is still looking for more of his players as they leave behind Slovenia's sweltering 35-degree celsius temperatures for England's wet summer.

Albion drew 0-0 against Hadjuk Split last Friday before holding Crvena Zvezda to a 1-1 stalemate last night.

"I think the tour has been a success," he said.

"You don’t get many friendlies where you play in front of 22,000 like we did in Split and have such a competitive game.

"I think the heat has been a positive for us because it’s really made the players work and get their heart rates up to make sure they are putting the effort in.

"I like to see lean footballers sweating and working hard and they’ve definitely done that this trip.

"Last night was a different sort of game but you have to respect the fact it was Red Star Belgrade we were playing who have got a Champions League qualifier coming up.

"I thought we acquited ourselves very well against them.

"We put a lot a preparation into this tour - I came out in April and looked at all the training venues and the hotel.

"We also talked about the quality of games we could get and it’s gone as planned.

"I’m happy enough and now we get back to playing more of an English style against Northampton, Hereford and Bristol Rovers in different conditions."

Mowbray was satisfied with his side's encouraging display against Serbian champions Red Star in Slovenia last night.

"I was pleased with some aspects of the performance, but there are still things to work on," added Mowbray.

"I was disappointed with the goal we conceded because we were a bit sloppy in giving a free kick away in that area.

"But generally it was ok, but it wasn’t the sort of game we’d face in the Championship too many weeks.

"There were some decent signs last night.

"The players applied themselves well and there were some good things, but also others we need to work on."

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Northampton 1 Albion 5

ALBION swept to a comfortable and convincing victory to prove that Tony Mowbray's new-look side is finally starting to take shape.

And the 589 Albion fans who made the journey down the M6 witnessed their first taste of Filipe Teixeira, who scored twice in the 5-1 rout and suggested that there is life after Jason Koumas.

Signed as Koumas' 'replacement' - creative though he is, 'Teix' is more a team player - the ex-Academica playmaker netted a first-half beauty before grabbing one from close range after the hour mark.

The Baggies opened the scoring when Jonathan Greening's 14th minute shot beat Mark Bunn, hit the post, struck the Northampton keeper on the back and trickled over the line. Number two was a moment of genuis from new-boy Teixeira on 35 minutes.

Tininho played a pass into Zoltan Gera's feet. He laid it off for the debutant, who curled a shot into the top corner from some 20 yards.

The third was another own-goal. Gera's 42nd minute cross was heading towards Craig Beattie only for Mark Hughes to dive in and finish the job off for him.

Albion continued the rout after the break when Greening's shot was parried by Bunn, allowing Teixeira to squeeze the angled ball home from close range. Albion's final hit came a minute later when the superb Tininho, picked out by Beattie, sent in a low cross for Phillips to convert past Bunn. Ian Henderson grabbed a late consolation for the home team, 13 minutes from time.

It was a good night's work for a strong Albion side, featuring the midfield that Tony Mowbray may have in mind as his first-choice quartet and the two strikers who are likely to be front runners to start the season.

There was a hint of experimentation at the back but that area will probably be overhauled in the coming weeks.

Albion's engine room was a mix of energy (Koren), grace (Greening), vision (Gera) and creativity (Teixeira). The foursome rotated around the pitch, sharing the responsibilities but also contributing at the sharp end of the pitch. Teixeira settled straight away and looks well-suited to his new team's style of play.

Tininho was excellent attacking wise and his crossing from the left-wing was faultless - he set-up two goals - but he was rarely tested at the other end. Even so, the left-back, who looks remarkably like a tanned Paul Robinson, could only have boosted his chances of a full-time move.

NORTHAMPTON: (4-4-2) Bunn, Crowe (May 75), Dolman, Hughes, Jackman, Henderson, Burnell (Dyer 80), Johnson, Holt, Larkin (Gilligan 64), Kirk (Aiston 14). Not used: Dunn, Quinn, Howe, Haines.

ALBION: (4-4-2) Kiely 7, Hodgkiss 7, Martis 6, Davies 6, Tininho 8, Gera 8, Koren 8, Teixeira 8, *Greening 8, Phillips 7, Beattie 7. Subs not used: Worrall, Daniels, Labadie, Manchester, Nardiello, Nicholson.

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Hereford 0 - 2 West Brom

Two second half Albion goals were enough to see off United in this pre-season friendly, however, the Bulls neat, and at times effervescent approach play, often caught the eye.

It is always difficult to judge triallists on the strength of one match but in the case of the ex-Charlton Athletic winger Alistair John his close control, trickery and fleet of foot must have impressed the watching Hereford manager Graham Turner.

West Brom included plenty of big-money signings, and handed a club debut to defender Leon Barnett, their new £2.5 million capture from Luton Town.

Hereford were the brighter side in a lively opening spell of pressure and could have gone in front in the very first minute of the match. John sped down the right flank before launching over a dangerous looking cross. It seemed to catch Albion 'keeper Luke Daniels unawares but the ball glanced off the cross-bar. Clint Easton reacted quickly getting in a shot but his effort was blocked at the expense of a corner by Martin Albrechtsen.

At the other end ten minutes later Karl Broadhurst had to move smartly to cut out the potential threat of Nathan Ellington whose pace had forced him past triallist Joey Hutchinson.

However, it was the Hereford midfield of Ben Smith, Sam Gwynne, Clint Easton and Alistair John who looked the more menacing. Short, accurate passing appeared to be the order of the day, and on the superb looking newly laid Edgar Street pitch the ball zipped around nicely off the surface.

On the quarter-hour mark Easton picked up a loose ball in midfield and broke forward quickly before firing in a 20 yard half-volley. However, Daniels was right behind it and held on.

Steve Guinan showed he has lost none of his predatory instincts by getting on the end of three excellent opportunities as the half progressed. He first managed to squeeze the ball into the back of the net on 30 minutes after racing onto Easton's quick free-kick, but the assistant referee raised his flag to chalk off the goal.

Next, another pacy surge down the right flank from John ended with a cross into the box. Guinan turned on a sixpence to shoot goalwards, but Daniels dived to prevent the Bulls taking what would have been a deserved lead.

Guinan was on the money again just before half-time after he ghosted past Ronnie Wallwork to get on the end of an accurate Ben Smith cross from the right. The strikers header was a powerful one but he watched on agonisingly as the ball dipped just over the cross-bar.

The final chance of the first half though came at the other end with a 30-yard strike. Danny Carter's shot contained plenty of venom but his attempt flashed just wide of Wayne Brown's right hand upright.

Both managers substituted their goalkeepers at half-time, with youngster Karl Lewis replacing Brown for the Bulls. Luke Steele went in goal for the Baggies.

Albion were the first to show in the second period. Sherjill MacDonald breezed past McClenahan before hammering in a low shot. Lewis got down to the effort and just about did enough to prevent a goal, although the ball struck the foot of the post and rolled across the six yard box before being cleared.

Ellington demonstrated his lightning pace a few minutes later. He raced through United's defence and was unlucky with a clipped effort which drifted just past the post.

The Baggies got their reward in the 51st minute. MacDonald fed Carter on the edge of the box who promptly curled home a crisp finish into the corner of the net.

Bulls' boss Graham Turner then rang the changes, bringing on Taylor, McCombe, Webb and Johnson. Albion seized upon some hesitancy as a result of these alterations in personnel and doubled their lead in the 57th minute.

MacDonald charged through the heart of the Hereford backline after McCombe had failed to cut out a long ball, and finished with aplomb for the Dutchman's first goal in Albion colours.

United then produced the best move of the match. Kris Taylor's delightful pass put Simon Johnson in the clear up front. The ex-Leeds United striker showed composure and vision to pick out the unmarked Luke Webb 10 yards out. However, Steele produced an acrobatic save to keep out Webb's curling effort. The ball was not cleared effectively enough by the Albion rearguard and in swooped Taylor with a super 20-yard volley, only to see his effort fizz inches wide.

Palmer, Ainsworth and Fitzpatrick came on for cameo performances at the death but realistically had little time to impress.

Another dipping Taylor effort almost reduced arrears in the 87th minute but, once again, United were unfortunate not to hit the target as the ex-Saddler's shot flew wide.

This was more than a decent work-out for both sets of players in front of a very healthy pre-season friendly attendance of 1,405. Albion's squad was strong enough to prove they have sufficient depth to challenge in the Championship, whilst the Bulls pace and neat pattern of play should pay dividends on what looks to be a tremendous playing surface.

With potentially 4 or 5 more Edgar Street signings anticipated - fans will be hoping for an exciting opening to the season when it begins in earnest on August 11th.

Hereford United: (4-4-2) Brown (Lewis HT), McClenahan, Hutchinson (McCombe 56), Broadhurst, Rose, John (Ainsworth 75), Gwynne (Fitzpatrick 70), Smith (Taylor 56), Easton (Webb) 56), Guinan (Palmer 70), Zebroski (Johnson 56).

West Bromwich Albion: (4-3-3) Daniels (Steele HT), Albrechtsen, Wallwork, Barnett (Nardiello 59), Mason, Worrall, Chaplow (Nicholls 77), Carter, Nicholson, Ellington, MacDonald (Morrison 84).

Goalscorers: Carter 51, MacDonald 57.

Referee: Andre Marriner (Sutton Coldfield)

Attendance: 1,405

Star-Player: Alistair John.

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Bristol Rovers 3 Albion 3

THREE - three, yet it could easily have been double that for both Albion and Bristol Rovers.

A topsy-turvy game saw Albion dice with defeat, veer towards victory before finally settling for a stalemate.

Frankly it doesn't matter what the result was - the end product was that there were no new injuries, with some things in need of fine tuning and other aspects still in need of major work.

Rickie Lambert was the star of the show for Bristol Rovers, scoring a hat-trick to balance out the game but the night also marked a fine performance and goal from Albion new-boy Craig Beattie.

Lambert's opening strike came on just six minutes when he was given the freedom of the Bristol to pounce unmarked onto Richard Walker's flick-on from Aaron Lescott's centre.

The second came as a result of another defensive switch-off when he rose above Tininho just after the break to nod home Chris Carruther's left-wing cross.

Cue the Albion comeback. Nathan Ellington pulled one back in the 56th minute when he ghosted across the box and drove in a low shot past the rooted Steve Phillips.

On the hour-mark Beattie pounced to score his first in Albion colours. Kevin Phillips released the ex-Celtic man who collected the ball with his back to goal, before turning his marker and driving him a low-angled shot. It was a striker's masterpiece.

Darren Carter added the third six minutes later when he hammered home a free-kick from 20 yards.

Yet Albion continued to twitch nervously at the back, with Lambert claiming the match-ball in the 73rd minute before going close just moments later.

Both sides had numerous chances to increase the goal tally, both keepers and goalposts keeping the scores down.

Albion looked slick going forward, perhaps over-elaborating a little too much before the break as their 4-3-3 drifted more towards a diamond formation. But at the back there was less cohesion. Tininho and Jared Hodgkiss stumbled along, while Curtis Davies was woeful with only Leon Barnett and Dean Kiely emerging with any great credit from the back five.

Beattie was superb and is getting better with every game and the midfield trio of Jon Greening, Zoltan Gera and Filipe Teixeira added vision and movement to the attacks albeit lacking steel and resilience.

A friendly perhaps, but plenty for Tony Mowbray to chew on.

ROVERS (4-4-2): Phillips; Lescott, Anthony, Elliott, Carruthers; Igoe (Pipe 70), Campbell, Disley, Haldane (Jacobson 61); Lambert (Rigg 88), Walker (Williams 70).
Subs not used: Green (gk), Rose, Hinton, Palmer, Sandell.

ALBION (4-3-3): Kiely; Hodgkiss (Albrechtsen 61), Barnett, Davies, Tininho; Gera, Greening, Teixeira (Carter 61); Ellington, Phillips (MacDonald 70), Beattie.
Subs not used: Daniels (gk), Martis.

ROVERS - Lambert (6, 48 & 73)
ALBION - Ellington (56), Beattie (61), Carter (66).

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Stafford Rangers 0 Albion 1

LATEEF Alliyu - if you can't remember the name, at least you'll have no problems remembering his first-ever goal.

The 15-year-old - yes, 15 - scored from 45-yards to extend Albion's unbeaten run of pre-season games to seven in an otherwise forgettable match at Stafford Rangers.

As if the goal wasn't enough, Alliyu has a story behind his rise to fame. The striker was already on Albion's academy books when he was called to do work experience from school at the start of this pre-season.

Most kids end up making coffees, fetching the sandwiches or filing paperwork during work placements, but Alliyu was thrust into Albion's training sessions while the club's more senior academy members travelled on their pre-season visit to Denmark.

Tuesday's game at Bristol and John Hartson's lack of fitness meant that Tony Mowbray needed to blood one extra striker in his experimental 4-3-3 formation at Stafford. Step forward Alliyu.

And he left Marston Road with a tale he'll be telling his grandkids with long after he's hung up his boots.

Alliyu had already shown glimpses of ability on the ball, with both feet, long before his 62nd minute goal on what was his senior debut for the Baggies.

Neil Clement's long pass was heading for last man Stuart Nicholson prompting Stafford keeper Danny Alcock to race off his line, out of his area and to head the ball away. Alliyu, standing on the edge of the centre circle, used every ounce of opportunism to react quickly and smash the ball straight back over Alcock's head and into the empty net.

It might have been a friendly but what a way to start a career.

Otherwise the game was shocking. Sherjill MacDonald, looking like a man who had played twice in two days, wasted Albion's best chances, while Stafford offered little at the other end. German teenager Bulent Gundez, from Schalke, appeared as a trialist for Albion but struggled to make a significant impact although he certainly showed no shortage of effort.

Shelton Martis suffered a slight leg injury following another impressive display while Clement was in a determined mood following his break from action.

But there's no doubt who star 'man' was...

ALBION (4-3-3): Steele (Daniels h-t), Wallwork, Albrechtsen, Martis (Hodgkiss 60), Clement, Gunduz (Hurst 75), Chaplow, Carter, Nicholson, Alliyu, MacDonald (Sawyers 82).

10,562 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Albion 3 Heerenveen 1

Beattie, hat-trick

CRAIG Beattie has come a long way in a little over a fortnight.

It was July 18 in Murska Sobota, Slovenia, where everything which could go wrong, did go wrong for the Albion striker in their pre-season game against Red Star.

A fluffed effort here, a miscued shot there, the keeper doing his bit to deny him - at one point Beattie kicked the ground in frustration. And he almost missed that too.

The lad who was unveiled to the press before the start of pre-season was shy and of few words when answering questions.

How times have changed both on and off the field.

Vibrant, happy and talkative off the pitch and deadly on the pitch, Beattie is beginning to look every bit the confident, international striker Tony Mowbray intended to unleash on the Championship. A few games ago he jokingly promised the press a post-match interview every time he scored - at this rate he'll be sick of the sight of us.

Perhaps it's the new environment, perhaps it's Mowbray's influence or even the regular football - he's played a major part in most friendlies - which has done the trick.

His 19-minute hat-trick against Uefa Cup qualifiers Heerenveen on Saturday was textbook.

The ex-Celtic man underlined his ability to play off the defender's shoulder, using his physical power and his deceptive pace. His finishes were exquisite.

Beattie's opener, three minutes before the break, came as a result of neat exchanges between Phillips and Teixeira. The former played in the latter who seemed to get the ball tangled under his feet. A quick pass to the left-side of the penalty area found Beattie, who drove the ball into the top corner.

His second, on 56 minutes, came from unselfish play from the hard-working Nathan Ellington. The Duke sprang the offside trap to race onto Jonathan Greening's pass but instead of finishing off the ball off himself, he passed square for Beattie who ended the move by lifting the ball gently over sub keeper Vandenbussche.

He claimed the match ball just before the hour when Carter and Gera forced their way through the massed Heerenveen defenders on the edge of the area and played in Beattie.

Five minutes from time the Dutch side pulled one back when Hodgkiss handled as he slid in to tackle Nilsson. The same striker made no mistake from the spot.

Positives for Albion included Filipe Teixeira's creativity, Greening's energy in covering so much of the field and Chaplow's determination to fill the position made vacant following Robert Koren's eye injury.

Curtis Davies also deserved credit. Booed when his name was read out before the game and everytime he touched the ball early on, the wantaway Albion man was soon earning applause with a polished display.

But the day belonged to the Albion's new No.10.

ALBION (4-1-2-1-2): Kiely, Hodgkiss, Barnett(Albrechtsen HT), Davies, Tininho (Martis 71), Chaplow (Wallwork 77), Gera (MacDonald 77), Greening, Teixeira (Carter 59), Beattie (Nicholson 64), Phillips (Ellington HT).
Sub not used: Steele (gk).

HEERENVEEN (4-4-2): Van Dijk (Vandenbussche HT), Zuiverloon, Breuer, Dingsdag, Johansen, Poulsen, Nielsen (Roorda 77), Prager (Bradley HT), Beerens, Nilsson, Garcia-Garcia (Sibon 59).
Not used: J Drost, H Drost, Loohuis, Armenteros
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