Tony Pulis: 'Victor Anichebe unplayable in Baggies win'

Saturday 24 Jan 2015
Birmingham's Michael Morrison gets above West Brom's Victor Anichebe
Tony Pulis described the FA Cup Fourth Round Midlands derby between Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion as a "proper Cup tie" as the Welshman’s side advanced into the Fifth Round. 

The Baggies progressed courtesy of a brace of goals from Victor Anichebe and held on despite Blues pulling a goal back in first half injury time and then exerting heavy second half pressure. 

Birmingham 1-2 West Brom

FA Cup
Fourth Round
St Andrew's
Saturday 24 January 2015
Winning side receives £90,000

Pulis said the spectacle was exactly what the cup is all about. “It was an old fashioned proper cup tie played in a great atmosphere,” he said. 

“Both sets of supporters were brilliant today. It was a tough game with lots of challenges and lots of tackles, played in the manner that you’d want it to be played in.”

The last time Albion beat Blues in the FA Cup the Baggies went on to lift the trophy and some would say the Throstles’ chances of winning this year’s competition have been boosted by the elimination of the Premier League’s top two on an incredible afternoon of Cup football. 

However Pulis is not interested in events elsewhere. “I am more concerned about our result,” he said after the game. “Whether it is FA Cup or League Cup you need a little bit of luck so I am not so concerned about who has got knocked out.  

“I’m more concerned that we get a home draw next round.” 

When Albion won the competition in 1968 Jeff Astle scored in every round for the Baggies and Victor Anichebe ensured he could still achieve such a feat adding to his goal against Gateshead with two at St Andrews. 

The Baggies boss was full of praise for his match winner but believes there’s more to come from the former Everton forward. 

“Nobody has ever questioned Victor’s ability, the big thing with Victor is keeping him fit and getting him fit,” said Pulis. 

“He’s still nowhere near fit fit but if you got him to that level I’m sure he’d be a handful because first half he was unplayable at times.” 

The first half which Anichebe ended up dominating looked anything but a local derby in the early stages lacking tempo and excitement with long range efforts from Saido Berahino and David Cotterill the best the first 20 minutes had to offer. 

See how WBA edged this Midlands derby at St. Andrews

However, on 22 minutes Birmingham awoke the crowd from their slumber as Cotterill nearly found the head of Andy Shinnie at the far post and the increased noise inside St Andrews seemed to spark Albion into life. 

The Baggies raced up the other end and Albion’s goalscoring hero from the third round turned provider Berahino slipping in Anichebe who rolled former Albion defender Paul Robinson and beat Darren Randolph at his near post. 

A mere 10 minutes later that same combination was causing havoc once again. Once more Berahino found Anichebe, once more the Nigerian out muscled Robinson and the result was the same, the ball nestling in the back of Randolph’s net. 

Albion seemed to be cruising toward a comfortable half-time lead but a former Baggies player had different ideas. 

Lloyd Dyer only joined Birmingham on Thursday and it was the man who served the Throstles for six years at the start of his career who set up Jonathan Grounds to slide home on the cusp of half-time and put some jitters in the home dressing room. 

If the first half was slow to start the same cannot be said of the second with the action end to end and utterly absorbing from the whistle. 

Both Randolph and Myhill had to pull off unbelievable stops to deny Lescott and Novak respectively before Myhill was forced to withdraw and another former Birmingham goalkeeper, Ben Foster, took his place in the Albion goal. 

Still there was no let-up in the action as Birmingham continued to push for an equaliser, Shinnie with a glorious chance on 72 minutes as he headed over unmarked from Paul Caddis’ cross. 

Blues threw on England U19s’ star Demarai Gray toward the end and the youngster certainly had an impact forcing Ben Foster into a superb tip over with a 20-yard effort. 

Despite the home side’s pressure Albion were a threat on the break and Chris Brunt nearly settled the tie on 82 when he raced onto Brown Ideye’s pass and from the most acute of angles struck the post. 

At the other end Foster and Gray renewed acquaintances but again the experienced stopper came out on top, this time with a quite brilliant save from Gray’s thumping 30-yard shot. 

A number of long range efforts from the home side in injury time probably had the hearts of Albion fans fluttering even if their keeper seemed less than concerned but in the end their side saw out the job to ensure them a place in Monday’s draw. 

Birmingham City (4-2-3-1): Darren Randolph; Paul Caddis, Michael Morrison; Paul Robinson, Jonathan Grounds, David Davis, Stephen Gleeson, David Cotterill, Andy Shinnie, Lloyd Dyer, Lee Novak. 

Subs: Demarai Gray for Lloyd Dyer 70, Nikola Zigic for Lee Novak 75, Wes Thomas for David Davis 86. 

Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Clayton Donaldson, Callum Reilly, Jonathan Spector. 

Goals: Grounds 45.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Boaz Myhill, Andre Wisdom, Gareth McAuley, Craig Dawson, Joleon Lescott, Craig Gardner Claudio Yacob, Chris Brunt, Stephane Sessegnon, Victor Anichebe, Saido Berahino. 

Subs: Ben Foster for Boaz Myhill 62, Chris Baird for Stephane Sessegnon 68, Brown Ideye for Victor Anichebe 81.

Subs not used: Sebastien Pocognoli, Cristian Gamboa, Graham Dorrans, James Morrison. 

Goals: Anichebe 25, 35. 

Referee: Mark Clattenburg. 

Attendance: 28,438.

By Chris Hall Digital Content Officer at St Andrew's