If last month’s transfer window had gone to plan for Tony Pulis, Brown Ideye would have been in Qatar last night and it would have been Carlton Cole leading the West Bromwich Albion attack against Swansea City.
Instead the collapse of Pulis’s planned move for Cole may just have worked to his Albion side’s advantage, for Ideye – hitherto labelled a £10m flop – has suddenly starting scoring vital goals.
On Sunday the club record signing got his side’s equaliser against Burnley and he was at it again yesterday, hitting the first goal before teeing up the recalled Saido Berahino for Albion’s second in a comfortable but significant victory.
As strike pairings go, Ideye – the man Pulis was ready to offload to Qatari club Al Gharafa – and Saido Berahino – in the so-called “naughty chair” last week for voicing his wish to leave the club – will not go down among the most popular in Albion history but they have key roles to play now and were instrumental in West Bromwich climbing up to 14th place in the Premier League table, four points above the relegation zone.
After a dull first half, they combined for the first goal on the hour when Berahino surged down the inside-left channel and fed Ideye on the edge of the box. Ashley Williams slid in to challenge but the ball bounced the Nigerian’s way inside the box and he beat Lukasz Fabianski with a low finish into the corner.
It was roles reversed for the second goal 14 minutes later as Ideye provided the cutback and Berahino provided a reminder of his undoubted promise with a superb swerving strike past Fabianski for his 15th goal in all competitions.
Darren Fletcher, who had an impressive home debut, hailed the pair afterwards, saying: “If we can get the service into them I'm sure they are going to take their chances. It's important in any team your strikers score goals. They were both fantastic [with] their work-rate and desire, and then their quality and the second was a perfect strike partnership goal.”
Pulis had demanded a strong start from his side after seeing Albion concede early goals against both Tottenham and Burnley in the past fortnight and his words nearly had the desired effect after 12 minutes. One obvious change to Albion’s approach under the Welshman is an increased threat from set pieces and Craig Dawson almost struck with a near-post header from James Morrison corner only for Fabianski to make the parry and then scramble the loose ball away as Gareth McAuley and Ideye prepared to pounce.
Callum McManaman was a willing runner down the Albion right but after driving wide from an angle, he earned a yellow card for one of those seemingly characteristic late tackles on Jefferson Montero and limped off in the second half.
Swansea, typically, had plenty of possession and Bafetimbi Gomis should have done better than blaze a shot over at the near post after good work by Montero down the left in the the first half. Garry Monk’s side have not managed more than one goal in any of their five league games without the departed Wilfried Bony and the closest they came in the second period was when Wayne Routledge shaped to shoot from close range only to be denied by a brilliant block by Albion’s new captain Fletcher.
Monk was less than impressed. “All night we didn’t play with any tempo, any intensity,” complained the Swansea manager. “We didn’t have it at all tonight and ultimately paid the price – we didn’t deserve anything from that game.”Reuse content