An expensive collision as Argyle's record £175,000 signing Mark Smith
comes to grief with one million pound man Andy Gray on his debut for
fashioned soccer logic was replaced by a gambler's dice as both sides chanced
their luck in an exhilarating finale more akin to a game of snakes and
rose and fell with cheers and groans in the wake of almost every attacking
throw, and nothing was certain until West Brom snatched an equaliser with the
last touch of the game.
minutes the game was no different from any other on a wet and blustery
clearly revitalised under the influence of new manager Ron Atkinson and the
arrival of former Scottish international Andy Gray, were well-worth their 1-0
contrast, looked more like the team struggling for goals and points and giving
few clues why their previous month's displays had earned manager Dave Smith
his pre-match gallon of whisky.
completely out of the blue, Argyle were level and all the sterility and toil
in their performance exploded into a riveting spectacle in which anything
could happen ... for either side.
and a twice-taken penalty - ultimately saved heroically by Steve Cherry - were
crammed into a fast moving, unpredictable ending that would probably have
produced even more surprises if the referee hadn't taken the ball away.
great entertainment for the fans but all added up to a nightmare for the
managers and coaches watching their pre-match defensive strategy fall apart at
Mark Smith rises high above the West Brom defence;
Stuart Evans looks on.
new attacking formation with Stewart Evans operating on the flanks and John
Clayton back partnering Tommy Tynan didn't look like succeeding until the 69th
minute when newcomer Dougie Anderson lobbed an ambitious shot goalwards from
Stuart Naylor and defender Martyn Bennnett had the ball covered but were both
taken by surprise by Tynan's jack-in-the-box leap. His head gave it just
enough height to clear the keeper.
minutes later Argyle were in front and, amazingly, the scorer John Clayton
might not have been around to enjoy his triumph if the referee had seen the
number eleven board being hoisted from the Argyle dug out only seconds
did it disappear than Clayton, who was suffering from a knock, raced to take
up a forward position for John Matthews' free-kick and went sprawling to send
his header curling around Naylor's delayed dive.
Reilly drilled home an 80th minute spot kick, only for Albion to be punished
for Gray's encroachment into the area.
tried again, aiming in the same direction but was left cursing his misfortune
as Cherry guessed correctly to parry the shot away to safety.
Reilly's hesitation compounded by Carlton Palmer's indecision cost Albion
another goal in the 83rd minute. Tynan was given just the right amount of
freedom to dribble around the two static Albion defenders, turn back and stab
the ball home.
now 3-1 up, should have secured their lead there and then. Instead they
allowed Gray far too much room at the other end and his 85th minute header
had time to hold fast as the final minutes ticked away. But they relied too
much on Cherry's daring deeds to preserve their hopes, and he was beaten again
when an injury-time free-kick from Darren Bradley sent a swarm of players
descending at the far post. Palmer's head did the damage.
Cherry; Brimacombe, L. Cooper, Matthews, Law, Smith, Anderson (Rowbotham),
Summerfield, Tynan, Evans, Clayton (S. Cooper).
West Brom -
Naylor; Palmer, Cowdrill, Bennett, Reilly, Bradley, Hopkins, Goodman
(Bennett), Gray, Singleton, Morley, Williamson (Dickinson).
Argyle - Tynan (2), Clayton; West Brom - Gray (2), Palmer.
Mr. D. Hutchinson (Cambridge).