Some of the best, and worst, of the Third Round
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all.
Early January means FA Cup Third Round weekend. In most cases.
This week we look at those games that stick in the mind - some good, some not so good.
In no particular order:
Colchester 1 ALBION 1 (January 27)
A tricky trip to Layer Road beckoned for our men in the opening month of 1968. Colchester, then in the old Third Division, took the lead against Alan Ashman's men, only for a Tony Brown penalty to level it.
In the final moments Colchester scored what they assumed to be in the winner. In his disgust, John Talbut even hoofed the ball out of the ground. But Albion were saved. To this day nobody knows why Colchester's winner was ruled-out. But it was. Albion went onto win the replay 4-0. The rest...
ALBION 7 Gateshead 0 (January 3)
Tony Pulis' first game started slowly - the new Baggies head coach initially watched the game from the stand, before venturing down to the technical area to urge his side on. It worked. Albion were two up by half-time thanks to quick-fire goals by Saido Berahino and Victor Anichebe. Berahino was to end the afternoon on four goals, with Chris Brunt and James Morrison helping Albion to rattle up a seven goal haul.
ALBION 2 Woking 4 (January 5)
At the point of this fixture, Albion were the one remaining Football League club left to never lose to a non-League outfit. And then this. Albion took the lead through Colin West - a rout looked on the cards. If only. A Gibraltarian called Tim Buzaglo rattled in a hat-trick, before Terry Worsfold knocked in a fourth - nobody ever talks about poor Terry. Darren Bradley scored Albion's second, a goal that was greeted with a crescendo of boos from Baggies fans. By then many of those supporters were banging the Glass Doors demanding changes. Three days later Brian Talbot lost his job.
Sunderland 1 ALBION 2 (January 5)
It was a 6am call for Albion fans setting out to Wearside for this early kick-off. Kevin Phillips scored a brilliant opener for Peter Reid's side, only for Neil Clement to level from the spot. Andy Johnson made it 2-1 to Albion just after the hour in what was to be one of Jason Roberts' best games for the club. It was not only Albion's first away win in the FA Cup since 1983 - 19 years! - but a game that gave Gary Megson's men belief that maybe, just maybe, they could live with the big boys.
ALBION 2 Blackburn Rovers 2 (December 11)
Here's one to catch you out: Only twice in a calendar year have Albion failed to play any FA Cup games - the first time was in 1994 when a reorganisation of the Premier League meant recently-promoted second tier Albion had to play a First Round tie against Halifax, which they duly lost. In 2000, to ease congestion in January fixtures, all Third Round ties were played in December 1999. Albion drew the opening fixture against Blackburn at The Hawthorns - 10,609 suggested few had bought into pre-Christmas cup fever - before losing the reply at Ewood Park, three days before Christmas. This was a strange old year for the FA Cup: Manchester United withdrew to play in the World Club Championship, with Villa reaching the final after beating 'lucky losers' Darlington along the way - the Shakers filling the void of United's absence.
ALBION 4 Notts County 0 (January 5)
Tony Brown scored a hat-trick to help demolish fellow second-tier side Notts County at The Hawthorns. Willie Johnston scored the other goal in an emphatic win, but the victory was the start of a special week for the Bomber. A few days later he was back in Nottingham, this time at the City Ground, to score four past a halpless Forest side. Albion's cup run was ended by a Fifth Round defeat to Newcastle, who eventually went onto reach the final.
ALBION 1 Everton 1 (January 7)
The last time Albion officially had a 30,000+ home attendance came in the Third Round tie at The Hawthorns. The Baggies were gunning for promotion when they met Colin Harvey's Everton side. Colin Anderson scored for the Baggies before the Toffees were given a controversial spot-kick - the linesman called back the referee after Gary Robson was deemed to have fouled Trevor Steven. Kevin Sheedy, scorer of that Hawthorns leveller, grabbed the only goal in a replay. They were bruising games: we lost Colin Anderson in the first game, Goodman in the second, both for several weeks.
Preston North End 0 ALBION 2 (January 8)
Never underestimate the importance of that first win. It took Bryan Robson 11 games to get his first victory as Baggies boss, this 2-0 win at Deepdale, inspired by a Rob Earnshaw double. It gave Albion belief and momentum and, although they lost their next game at Fulham, it was to give Albion belief going into 2005. It might not have been the game that inspired the Great Escape, but it didn't half help.
See you next week.