Club News

Downing: We showed big hearts

Caretaker boss also explains changes in personnel and formation

KEITH Downing hailed his players for showing ‘big hearts’ as his side – containing seven changes - came from behind to earn a precious point in a 1-1 draw at Tottenham.

The Baggies fell behind to a spectacular Christian Eriksen free-kick in the 36th minute after referee Anthony Taylor harshly adjudged James Morrison to have fouled Kyle Walker.

But the visitors were behind for less than two minutes as Jonas Olsson was quickest to react to in the six-yard box to level the scores.

And after edging the first half on chances, Albion – who lined up in an unfamiliar 5-3-1-1 formation - weathered a second-half Spurs surge to get their just desserts.

“We had good discipline and organisation and showed big hearts,” said Downing.

“We knew we had big characters in the dressing room and they showed that.

“I wasn’t surprised how well it went with the formation.

“We’ve had a couple of days working at it and the training was good on Monday and Tuesday.

“We’d looked at Tottenham’s strengths and weaknesses and we felt we could nullify some of their attacks because they’re a good side when they go forward.

“We obviously wanted to try and hurt them going the other way and I thought in the first half we created two or three opportunities to do that.

“I was pleased the way they responded after the first goal we conceded.

“We got back into the game quickly.

“Overall I’m delighted.

“A point at White Hart Lane is something considering the situation we’re in at the moment.

“But there are a good set of players out there and I think the squad showed their strength in depth today with the changes that I made.”

Downing also explained his starting XI was also selected with a trip to West Ham in less than 44 hours also on his mind.

“Playing again in less than 48 hours is ludicrous,” he insisted.

“Asking the players to play twice in less than 48 hours - and provide quality and entertainment – doesn’t make sense.

“That had some bearing on my team selection today.

“We’ve got a 22-man squad of players staying down here for three days and I’m sure the majority of them will be playing a part in the two games.”

Downing also gave his verdict on the contentious issues of the alleged foul that led to Spurs’ opener and whether Steven Reid should have received a second yellow card of the game in the 67th minute for a challenge of Danny 

“Having seen it on the replay I can see a little bit why he’s given the free-kick to Spurs,” he added.

“But I thought Morrison really had nowhere to go.

“I thought Kyle Walker had slightly lost control of the ball and in trying to retrieve it his momentum has going forward.

“But I suppose the referee thinks the nature of the kick is a bit wild.

“Tottenham were disappointed he blew up because they had good possession on the edge of the box.

“But I’ve got to respect the finish; it was a top finish by Eriksen.

“There was no malice in what Reidy did.

“He was very committed and I don’t think he should have got sent off.”