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Baggies serve up perfect away day

West Brom FanZoner Joe Chapman reflects on the Baggies' 3-0 victory at Southampton as Albion returned to winning ways.

Last Updated: 30/04/13 at 18:59 Post Comment

Romelu Lukaku: Celebrates his goal at Southampton

Romelu Lukaku: Celebrates his goal at Southampton

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Saturday was just about the perfect day for any West Brom fan, especially if you were one of the 3,200 supporters who attended the Baggies' clash with Southampton.

Steve Clarke has seemingly found a new formation, continuing with the 4-3-3 system that earned Albion a point in the second half against Newcastle. Marc-Antoine Fortune, Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long all started at St. Mary's and, ultimately, all three got on the scoresheet.

Many fans were starting to wish the season would end quickly a few weeks ago, thankful the Baggies had all but secured their Premier League status in the first half of the season. The aforementioned second half performance against Newcastle last week was encouraging, after defeats to West Ham and Arsenal and a dull draw at Stoke.

But with only a handful of matches to be played out before we bid farewell to the successful 2012/13 campaign, Albion's followers have reignited hope that this season can end in the same manner that it began.

Besides the 5-1 drubbing of Wolves and the 4-1 thrashing at Charlton, not many of our top flight score-lines away from home will have looked as emphatic as it did on the south coast. And all in front of a bumper following, mainly thanks to the club's traditional 'free coach travel' gesture. Brilliant.

On the subject of Wolves, spare a thought for our languishing neighbours as they prepare for likely successive relegations. I for one would rather see all four Midlands clubs in the Premier League, enjoying derbies every other weekend, but it seems we are now at least a couple of years away before that idea can bear fruit once again.

I must mention how impressed I was with St. Mary's. The stadium only opened in 2001 and the modern facilities were excellent compared to other stadia I have entered this year (no names!). By and large, the first half was quite nervy, despite the early goal. Adam Lallana looks some player, but I personally voted for Gareth McAuley as my man of the match. Not once did the well publicised Rickie Lambert beat our Northern Irish stalwart in the air.

I was thrilled for Fortune when he opened the scoring. In the same vein as Billy Jones last week, I don't feel our Frenchman always gets the credit he deserves for his efforts. However, our fourth - FOURTH - red card of the season was, once again, completely avoidable. He has come out and apologised but, just like Youssouf Mulumbu a few weeks ago, we must now make do without him. This is even more frustrating when you think that, like I mentioned before, Clarke has now found a new and successful formation.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the summer, what with so many players' futures up in the air. I would certainly like to see Fortune, Graham Dorrans and Zoltan Gera at the Hawthorns next season, but we'll have to wait and see. I completely trust those at the club to do the right thing, they haven't failed too many times!

After looking at our final four fixtures of the season, I really feel we can take six points at the very least, especially if we play anything like we did at the weekend. Perhaps a point off the champions? They do remain the only existing Premier League team we haven't beaten at some point.

Boing Boing!

By Joe Chapman, FanZone's West Brom blogger.

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