Match of the Year

In a promotion year, there will always be games and important victories that stick out to us fans. They may not always be the most dominant performances or even the most exhilarating games to watch, but you reminisce about them months later wishing you could’ve bottled that pride and jubilation now the going has gotten tough and results aren’t going our way.

So let’s indulge ourselves in the good times that 2020 brought to Baggies fans – here are your nominees for Match of the Year:

#1 Millwall 0-2 West Brom – 09/02/20

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Fabled as the scariest stadium to visit as an away fan in England, The Den was home to one of the gutsier, gustier and more assured West Brom performances of recent times. Millwall were resurgent after Gary Rowett’s appointment in October of 2019 – they’d only lost once in Rowett’s nine league home games as boss, scoring two or more goals there in seven of them, before Albion’s trip to South London. Bilic understood the significance of the game, only one win (versus Luton) in West Brom’s last seven league fixtures meant the chasing pack were bearing down on the Baggies. It was crucial they secured three points.

In all honesty, West Brom never looked like losing despite the treacherous weather served up by Storm Ciara which almost saw the game postponed. Krovinovic’s classy long-range strike put the Midlands side ahead and despite the occasional Millwall chance, Albion’s promotion credentials were on full display. A cracking near post header from academy prospect Dara O’Shea completed a vital and well-earned victory. It may not have been a classic but it was a satisfying team performance in adverse conditions from a side whose promotion credentials had been called in to question in the build up to the game.

#2 Bristol City 0-3 West Brom – 22/02/20

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A tricky trip to Ashton Gate in late February was the moment when we started to believe that promotion was on the cards. Bristol City found themselves on the edge of the play off places, only outside of them on goal difference. Meanwhile momentum was quietly building for Albion, who had won three of their last four, knowing a win would seriously boost their promotion chances. What they didn’t know was that it would be “one of our most complete performances of the season”, those are Slaven’s words, not mine.

There was an element of fortune about the first two Albion goals, both of which were shots that were initially saved but they both rebounded kindly for Callum Robinson and Robson-Kanu. The latter put the game beyond doubt, despite a Sawyer’s red card, capitalising on some shoddy Ashley Williams defending by elegantly bending the ball with outside of his foot past the stranded keeper. The celebration summed up the club’s mood with the Welshman running to the away dug out to embrace his teammates. Team spirit was high and so were Albion; atop the Championship table after 34 games and nine points clear of third-placed Fulham.

#3 West Brom 1-0 Sheffield United – 28/11/20

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The Premier League is an unforgiving league, not that you’d need to explain that to Baggies or Blades fans. Their sides were both winless and they propped up the league as the Premier League’s basement boys. West Brom were nineteenth, Sheffield United were twentieth. It was the definition of a must-win game.

So when Conor Gallagher’s side-footed effort nestled in to the bottom corner after only 13 minutes, it offered everyone affiliated to Albion hope. A first Premier League win in over two years was within their reaches. This edgy encounter is perhaps best illustrated by the statistic that there were 39 shots in the, which at the time was the joint-highest in the 2020/21 season, but only one goal. It was a desperate yet open affair which lacked quality, especially from Chris Wilder’s forwards.

But once the referee called time on proceedings, there was no understating how massive those three points felt. Our first and only of win of the season felt amazing, especially given the tension surrounding the fixture. We might not see many victories this season so we’ll celebrate and savour those three precious Premier League points.

#4 Liverpool 1-1 West Brom (27/12/20)

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It was only a matter of days ago since we achieved the second of two heroic 1-1 draws at two of the most intimidating away games in world football. Bilic’s final game as manager away Man City was a gritty defensive display that hinged on several sprawling saves by shot stopper Sam Johnstone in the final few minutes. His departure as manager in the aftermath took the shine off such a great display.

Allardyce somehow conjured an even more impressive display less than a fortnight later in only his second match at the helm. Liverpool’s legendary streak at Anfield was tested in the second half as the game opened up. It was hard to believe after such a negative first 45 minutes that we could take strike back against the Premier League champions; Sadio Mane’s well-taken goal punctuated as one-sided a half as you will ever see. Once again, just like at the Etihad, Semi Ajayi forced an improbable second-half equaliser before Johnstone performed miracles late in the game to keep the score at 1-1.

Far better sides have been dispatched at Anfield and there are few more satisfying feelings than raining on one of the big boys parade. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come under local boy Big Sam.

The Results:

  1. 3-0 Bristol City (65.2%)
  2. 1-1 Liverpool (18.2%)
  3. 2-0 Millwall (12.7%)
  4. 1-0 Sheffield United (3.9%)

The winner of the 2020 WBA Report Match of the Year is Bristol City 0-3 West Brom!