West Brom left to rue costly mistake
West Brom fans were left to think about what might have been after twice letting leads slip away against relegation rivals Cardiff as Saturday's match ended 3-3 in what was The Baggies biggest game of the season so far. The lack of nerve and poor decision-making on show in this game by Albion certainly doesn't offer any encouragement going into an equally vital fixture next week against Norwich at Carrow Road. Unfortunately, both the lack of nerve and poor decision-making have been evident throughout this season. - Report: West Brom 3-3 Cardiff City The biggest error undoubtedly came from Saido Berahino, who so often this season has been the sole shining light for the Baggies. However, his decision to try and square the ball to a team-mate instead of taking the ball to the corner in the final minute of the game was criminal. There was absolutely no need to go for a fourth goal, let alone the square ball being the most difficult and risky option available to Berahino. While you can ask questions of why there was three other players rushing up the pitch in the last minute also going for the fourth goal, the blame has to lie firmly at the feet of Berahino and he seems to have accepted that with an apology on Twitter. At times this season it has been his youthful exuberance and willingness to try something a little different which has helped Albion pick up points, but he will have learnt now that sometimes the easy, most boring option is also the best option. It's the second time a decision like that has come back to haunt Albion this season. In the controversial 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Goran Popov decided to try and shoot from the touchline near the halfway line instead of letting the ball run out of play for an Albion throw. It was from that shot that Chelsea launched the attack that led to Ramires being rewarded a very questionable penalty that allowed Chelsea to equalise. Losing a two goal lead is also an all-too familiar feeling for West Brom fans this season; in fact there seems to be a common theme developing. In both games against Aston Villa this season, Albion had gone 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, the first goal in both games being wonder strikes, from Shane Long and Chris Brunt, respectively. Cardiff was no different, Albion taking the lead through a goal of the season contender from the returning Morgan Amalfitano, who lobbed David Marshall on the half-volley from 30 yards out. If Wayne Rooney hadn't done something even better a week earlier, Amalfitano's strike would be talked about as the goal of the season. Graham Dorrans scored the second goal, which his performances in recent weeks have certainly merited. But from there, Albion almost seemed like they didn't know what to do, whether they should attack and go for a killer third goal or sit back and play on the counter. They decided on the latter and this allowed Cardiff to build a bit of confidence. In what was a roller-coaster of emotions for Albion fans, when Cardiff made it 2-2 there was a feeling of inevitability around the ground that Cardiff would go on to get a winner. When Thievy made it 3-2 to Albion in the last minute, there was almost an out-pouring of relief in the celebrations which soon turned to deflation, disappointment and anger after Cardiff equalised following Berahino's poor decision. It's very difficult to take any positives from a game after that happens. You can look at individual performances and give credit to Craig Dawson, Dorrans and the much-maligned Liam Ridgewell for the way they played, but really it has just led to more questions. Why can't West Brom put together a performance for a full 90 minutes? They were electric for the 20 or so minutes, helped by a great atmosphere inside the Hawthorns, but then didn't really produce much for the rest of the game. This has happened all season, under former manager Steve Clarke, caretaker manager Keith Downing and now current boss Pepe Mel. Is it the coaching or is it the players? Or a combination? Do West Brom have the fight and the nerve to grind out results and keep themselves in the Premier League? On this evidence, you'd have to say no. All West Brom needed to do in the second half was stay firm at the back while continuing to press high-up the pitch and simply keep possession of the ball. Instead they stopped pressing, dropped deep and couldn't string more than three passes together before giving the ball back to Cardiff. What West Brom really need is some of their leaders back in the team, which is why Mel must be delighted that Jonas Olsson will return next week. Dawson has played well in his absence but there is no doubt that West Brom miss the leadership that Olsson provides. The absence of other leaders was also keenly felt yesterday. Chris Brunt and Claudio Yacob would have been perfect for that situation, as not only are they the type of players who would try and drag Albion over the finishing line, they are also West Brom's two best retainers of the ball, without them Albion's passing went awry. The big games are going to keep on coming for West Brom now, and they need to find a way of holding their nerve and starting to win these games if they want to stay in the Premier League.