Shan expects ‘special’ Hawthorns atmosphere

Jimmy Shan says fans attending Tuesday’s Play-Off semi-final at The Hawthorns already understand the role they can play in getting Albion over the line.

The Baggies trail Villa by the same 2-1 scoreline that confronted Ossie Ardiles’ men on a memorable night at The Hawthorns in 1993, with Albion earning a 2-0 home win to reach Wembley.

But reminded of that second-leg win over Swansea City - and buoyed by supporter positivity - Jimmy believes another ‘electric’ Hawthorns atmosphere will greet his players and can carry them to the Play-Off final.

“There was definitely some positive signs from our performance and with just one goal in it, we have got 90 minutes to take them back to a packed Hawthorns and hopefully the environment on Tuesday night will spur us on,” he said.

“I’ve seen bits and pieces on social media myself from the fans and seen how upbeat they are. I can only envisage The Hawthorns being packed to the rafters and the fans to be right behind us for there to be an electric atmosphere. That’s important.

“When they are behind us there is no better place - they can really, really get the place rocking. When I’ve spoke to Albion fans they keep throwing back to me the game in 1993 against Swansea. Same scoreline and the atmosphere there people tell me is the best it’s been for years and it has not been bettered.

“I have got every bit of faith that our performance on the pitch will better that and the performance of the supporters will better it as well.”

Since Saturday’s first leg, Jimmy and his team have been working on plans which must go ahead without suspended top scorer Dwight Gayle.

It’s an absence, he says, that the supporters can help fill with the fervour of their backing.

He said: “It’s important that the fans have some patience with our performance, We have got a game-plan that we are looking to execute and we need to make sure they are right behind us from minute one until the final whistle.

“We need them, we need the power of the fans to be right behind us and to be that 12th man.

“When you have momentum shifts in the game and the fans are behind that, it magnifies that to the opposition. It is a cliche, but they are vitally important. It’s vitally important that they come to The Hawthorns and enjoy the occasion also. It’s a Play-Off semi-final. There’s one goal in it, we are one step away from going to Wembley, we are one step away from making history. They can definitely be that extra man, they can definitely be a lift for the players.

“We have seen it many, many times this season. The local rivalry is hopefully going to fuel the intensity of that atmosphere and make it hostile to ensure that they get right behind us. It is of vital importance and I’m sure that it will be an incredible atmosphere on Tuesday night.

“We need however many fans we have got in the stadium to become heroes. I think the football club needs to be united. I think this football club when it is united, special things can happen and I am expecting something special to happen on Tuesday night.”

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