Baggies boing back to top
Wednesday December 26th, 3pm
WEST Bromwich Albion pounded promotion rivals Bristol City into submission at The Hawthorns as they rocketed back to the top of the Championship in emphatic style.
After a goalless first half during which the City goal led something of a charmed life, Roman Bednar put the Baggies in front with his seventh goal in as many games before three further goals in eight minutes, one from Robert Koren and a brace from Kevin Phillips, underlined the home side`s superiority.
Darren Byfield weighed in with one of his trade-mark strikes near the end but it was no more than a consolation for the Robins, whose goal was peppered with shots throughout the game.
The gulf between the two sides is highlighted by the game stats, which show Albion controlling 72 per cent of possession and managing 29 shots at goal, 19 of which were on target.
Albion reverted to a 4-4-2 line-up, with Kevin Phillips and James Morrison replacing Chris Brunt and Filipe Teixeira.
A bumper crowd of 27,314, the second biggest of the season, saw the Baggies respond magnificently to manager Tony Mowbray`s pre-match call to 'impose our style of play on them`.
With both teams knowing that a win would put them level on points with leaders Watford, the game started at a furious pace with action at both ends of the pitch, but the long the match went the more Albion pressed.
Bednar and Phillips tested Brazillian keeper Adriano Basso time and again, the big Czech striker sending one effort against the underside the crossbar before City managed to scramble yhe ball away.
The Robins were lucky to remain at full strength when Liam Fontaine brought down Bednar as he chased a Zoltan Gera through ball in the 40th minute. Though the defender seemed to be the last man, he escaped with a booking.
But Bednar was not to be denied and three minutes into the second half he gave Albion the lead, touching home a low cross from Carl Hoefkens.
The chances continued to flow for the Baggies but it needed something special from Koren for them to increase their lead in the 67th minute as the Slovenian international latched on to a pass from Gera and buried a shot into the top corner of the net from all of 25 yards.
Five minutes later Kevin Phillips added a third, intercepting a back pass and taking the ball past Basso before stroking the ball into an empty net.
Barely another three minutes had passed when Albion`s leading scorer took his season`s tally to 13 in 13 starts with a snapshot that Basso somehow allowed to creep under his body.
By then it was game, set and match to the Albion, though there was still time for the Robins to get themselves on the scoresheet through Byfield, courtsey of some lazy Albion defending.
West Bromwich Albion: Kiely; Hoefkens, Cesar, Pele, Robinson; Gera, Koren, Greening, Morrison (Beattie 80); Phillips (Albrechtsen 86), Bednar (Miller 70). Subs not used: Steele, Barnett.
Goals: Bednar 48, Koren 67, Phillips 72, 75.
Bristol City: Basso; Orr, McCombe, Fontaine, McAllister; Sproule (Skuse 79), Elliott, Johnson, McIndoe (Noble 79); Trundle, Showunmi (Byfield 52). Subs not used: Weale, Vasko.
Goals: Byfield 87.
Bookings: McIndoe, Fontaine.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
Earned praise from manager Tony Mowbray, who said: 'Kevin has got straight back in the saddle. He was scoring every game before he was injured . He has come back and is scoring again. That is quality.'