Ireland international delighted with trip to south coast
SHANE Long insists yesterday’s 3-0 triumph at Southampton proves his Albion team-mates have the desire to finish the season on a high.
The 25-year-old’s 77th-minute strike put the game beyond doubt as the Baggies secured only their fourth win since the turn of the year - and their first away victory since February’s trip to Liverpool.
The result sees the club record 48 points and 14 wins – bettering last season’s unprecedented Barclays Premier League return.
And the Ireland international believes the comprehensive scoreline at St Mary's Stadium will silence critics suggesting Steve Clarke’s men are busily preparing for their summer holidays.
“We set high standards and it would be very easy to just see the season out with four games left,” said Long.
“The gaffer’s set us some targets, we’ve got the record number of wins, we’ve now beaten last season’s points total, so now it’s getting to 50 points and finishing in the top eight.
“We started the season very well and we put ourselves in a strong position to have a great season.
“There was a dip in form around January and February but overall I think we’ve been good.
“The players and the head coach deserve yesterday and hopefully we keep on going in our last four games and get right up there.
“It was nice that nearly everything went right for us and I think we deserve to finish the season on a high.”
The former Reading striker revealed the Baggies travelled to Southampton with an brave game plan – following the impressive attacking display in the second half of last week’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle.
“We put a very attacking team out and we caused them all sorts of problems at the back," added Long.
“We were pretty solid at the back and once we got the first goal we were confident we could win the game.
“We had plenty going forward and Rom, Marco and I all supported each other well.
“It was enjoyable and I thought we played very well as a team.
“We really went for it in the second half of last week’s game against Newcastle and I think the gaffer liked it.
“We’ve worked on it all week with the three of us interchanging up front.
“I doubt they expected us to play like that.
“It was one of those games where things went our way.
“We gave it a good go all over the pitch and 3-0 is a good scoreline away from home.
“The gaffer said before the game that it was important for us to start well and to get the first goal.
“Especially against a Southampton side who have been very good in recent weeks.
“We were prepared for a tough challenge and once we got on top we made sure we stayed on top."
And Long backed referee Robert Madley’s decisions to dismiss Gaston Ramirez, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Danny Fox in the final 20 minutes.
“Unfortunately, I got an elbow to the face and I don’t know if that was deliberate or not, but the ref got a good view of it.
“I didn’t see Marco’s sending off because I was still rolling around and then the last one was a two-footed challenge.
“It sounds like he got all three right and I’d say he had a good day.”