Two nil… and you f**ked it up

This week’s Monday Night Football in the Premier League featured a Midlands derby between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa. It is a rivalry steeped in history, so much so that many Albion fans consider Villa, rather than Wolverhampton Wanderers, to be their main local rivals. The two clubs first met in a Staffordshire Senior cup tie in 1882. Both were founder members of the Football League in 1888 and contested three FA Cup Finals during the 19th Century. Hostilities ceased somewhat during the 1990s, when Albion were permanently outside the top division, but have been renewed since then.

For some reason, the Sky Sports commentators insisted on telling us that these were the only two Midlands teams playing in the Premier League this season; where they think Stoke is, I’m not too sure. It was another of those games that was great for the neutral, but tense for those who support either side. Shane Long scored twice to put West Bromwich Albion 2–0 up after just 11 minutes, but Villa replied with second half strikes from El Ahmadi and Westwood to even it up, and the match finished 2–2.

“Two nil… and you f**ked it up”, sang the Villa fans, thereby giving no credit to their own team for battling back into the game. Nevertheless, they have a point. No matter what the situation or opposition, surrendering a two goal lead in football is a cardinal sin. They should know, as the result was a mirror image of the last time the teams met, when it was Albion who salvaged a draw from two down.

As a fan of West Bromwich Albion, I remember hearing on several occasions from fellow supporters how the Baggies are famous for blowing two goal leads. Probably the most well known example is the 1967 League Cup Final at Wembley. Albion, at that time playing in the old First Division as well as being the reigning cup holders, had a 2–0 half-time lead over Third Division Queens Park Rangers, thanks to a brace from Clive Clark. The second half was a different story, however. Morgan, Marsh and Lazarus scored for QPR, who won 3–2 and lifted the trophy.

Typical Albion you might say, but is it? Are they really any better or worse than other teams in this respect? It would be interesting to know which teams in English football have lost the most two goal cushions in games they have failed to win. It could be a tough question to answer. Through reference books and websites, it is relatively easy to find all the results of old games. What is more difficult is discovering the order in which the goals were scored, particularly so for older games. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

In the meantime, let’s hope that the next time WBA go two goals ahead in a game, they are able to hold on.

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