Roy Hodgson admits the level of Albion’s performance yesterday sent him away from The Hawthorns a happy man.
Albion played some of their best football this season and were rewarded as goals from Jerome Thomas and Shane Long gave the Baggies a much needed 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
The hosts started the game on the front foot and took the lead in the 16th minute when Jerome Thomas rounded Jussi Jääskeläinen to slot home after Zoltan Gera’s excellent through ball.
But Thomas was to concede a near carbon copy penalty to the one against Liverpool just five minutes later when he felled Fabrice Muamba. Ivan Klasnic made no mistake from the resulting spot kick.
The Baggies were rejuvenated after the break and took the lead again when Shane Long expertly headed in Nicky Shorey’s cross against the post and past the diving Jääskeläinen.
The win moved Albion up to tenth and left Hodgson purring after the final whistle.
"I'm so delighted with today's performance," beamed Hodgson.
"Even if we hadn't won, after playing like that, I would have gone home happy.
"That was a really, really good performance, both defensively and offensively, and in terms of team organisation and team spirit.
"I can't fault anybody.
"If only we could do that for 26 more games, I'd be a very happy man at the end of the season."
Hodgson admitted he had to give himself a pep talk before delivering his half-time team talk after being incensed by the penalty award.
He managed to keep his frustrations in check as he urged his troops not to dwell on their spot-kick injustice, after Thomas also conceded a dubious penalty in the last home game against Liverpool.
"I told myself not to get hung up on something that really irritated me and infuriated me, especially coming on the back of the Liverpool experience," added the head coach.
"I said to myself 'don't let that affect what needs to be said at half-time in a tactical way'.
"We all had to make sure we put it behind us and started from scratch.
"I told the players to put the injustice behind them, try not to dwell on the fact they'd been dealt another bad card and make certain they went out in the second half like they started the first half.
"We started the first half very well.
"In actual fact, we didn't finish it that badly, but there was a spell after the penalty where we didn't play as well.
"At half-time, we had to put it all behind us and make certain we concentrated on our football.
"Instead of having 90 minutes to win the game, we had 45 minutes.
"That was a good message for me, as much as it was a good message for the players.
"I know all of you [the media] have seen lots of football and I know that tonight there will be loads of experts analysing whether it was or wasn't a penalty.
"But in my 45 years as a player and coach, they are not penalties.
"That's the bottom line for me and that's the way I think I will continue.
"I'll use my experience and my 64 years of age to justify that that is the way I see it.
"I don't expect to get a penalty in that situation, nor do I want one like that because, when you start getting penalties to decide matches in that way, the whole game changes.
"I like the way the game has been over the last 45 years.
"That's the game I know and love and I don't appreciate this new wave of penalties.
"I think it's quite amazing because if we're not top of the Fair Play League, we must be pretty damn close, and yet we've had five or six penalties given against us this season!
"I'm not saying they are all wrong decisions, but the ball is not in our box a lot."
Would you have been happy seeing Albion playing so well and not winning? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.