Football evolution proven at the Amex
In 1922 Roy Chapman Andrews led a failed expedition to the deserts of Mongolia and China in search of the missing link. Gus Poyet went to Almeria in Spain…and succeeded.
Gus’ theory of football evolution has seen the weaker elements of the Albion squad displaced by those who are more capable of turning this theory into scientific fact. Leonardo Ulloa is the man who has finally provided a telling end product to all the midfield domination that was, until his arrival, wasted by the profligate Craig Mackail Smith. I know Macca is a fans favourite but for all his tireless and self-less running he simply has failed to deliver on so many occasions.
Yesterday against Huddersfield we saw what we had been missing. Two excellent headers and a composed rounding of the keeper to roll the ball into an empty net to complete the most distinguished of hat-tricks, a first for the Amex and hopefully the first of many in an Albion shirt for Leo.
As is usual in home games Albion quickly assumed control of the game but for all this dominance chances were at a premium until the 20th minute when Ulloa arrived ahead of his marker at the near post to power Orlandi’s pinpoint cross into the net past the hapless Terriers keeper. Hudderfield had offered nothing in an attacking sense and had Orlandi converted a simple one on one chance from a cleverly taken quick free kick only minutes after the opening goal the floodgates may have opened. In fairness to Orlandi only a fine save by Smithies denied on this occasion but he seems incapable of converting chances that have to be buried, the harder the chance that comes his way the more likely he is to score. On 42 minutes this miss looked as though it was going to prove costly as with their first attempt on goal Huddersfield equalised through a fine finish from ex-Everton man James Vaughan after Albion failed to clear their lines from a hopeful long ball into the box. Half-time 1-1 and I feared another frustrating 90 minutes at the Amex was inevitable.
The second half saw Albion again assume ascendancy and the chances began to flow. Twice David Lopez was denied by goal-line clearances and second half sub Ashley Barnes, on for the struggling Gary Dicker, wasted a guilt edged chance putting a free header from 7 yards tamely over the bar.
The subdued home support groaned en masse and appeared to be resigned to another 2 home points dropped. The next five minutes, however, changed all that. From a hotly disputed (ok, clearly incorrect) corner Ulloa rose and despite leaning away from goal planted an exquisite header into the corner of the net. Huddersfield were furious and with their composure gone two minutes later a long ball from Calderon was collected by Ulloa on the edge of the box and as the keeper committed himself to his right the forward rolled the ball to the left and passed the ball home. The previously subdued atmosphere was replaced with raucous and unrestrained joy. We had a new hero. We were still celebrating and singing his name when another long ball found Mackail Smith who appeared to be tripped (fell over) by the right back and the referee, getting into the spirit of these ebullient moments, pointed to the spot. Spanish Dave stepped up and we knew he wasn’t going to miss. How nice it is to at last believe that the award of a penalty is not just another addition to the missed chances total rather than the goal tally.
This time last season we sat in a similar position in the table but, in truth, it didn’t seem warranted then. It does now. Of course we have tough obstacles to overcome between now and the beginning of May but with a goalscorer in your team and a belief in the system Gus has painstakingly crafted we really could be looking at a tumultuous few months and a very rosy long-term future. Good ol Sussex by the Sea lalala….