Football: Dickov eases pressure on committed City

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The Independent Online
West Bromwich Albion 0

Manchester City 1

Troubled City, whose only previous away victory had been over Nottingham Forest three months ago, claimed the scalp of another promotion candidate last night as Albion's challenge faltered at The Hawthorns. Paul Dickov's second-half goal enabled Frank Clark's side to enjoy only their third win in a run of 12 First Division matches.

It was a success achieved despite the early loss of Irish international Kevin Horlock, who was injured inside the first minute in a tackle with Albion's Stacy Coldicott. Horlock had been made captain only on Monday after repeated barracking from fans forced Clark to relieve Kit Symons of the armband.

After Saturday's humiliating defeat at Stockport, City found greater commitment. "Maybe they had something to prove tonight," Clark said. "But they need to do that every time, whoever we are playing against."

The Albion manager, Ray Harford, felt he had made a mistake in deploying Peter Butler to man mark Georgi Kindladze, but after he abandoned the tactic at half-time the Georgian provided the game's decisive cross.

For the home side's part, only Ian Hamilton's first-half effort from long range, dealt with superbly by Martyn Margetson, came close to giving their supporters something to cheer in a display that lacked creativity.

Harford, who has no contract with the club he took over last February, was again linked with the vacant job at Queen's Park Rangers yesterday, but would not be drawn about it. "I can do nothing about speculation," he said.

Having operated with only Andy Hunt in a forward role, Albion switched tactics at half-time, taking Richard Sneekes out of midfield and sending on Micky Evans to help out up front.

But City, with Kinkladze now unshackled, scored 10 minutes into the second half. The Georgian dispossessed Albion full-back David Smith and delivered a low cross which Dickov, outpacing the nearest Albion defender, turned in at the near post.

West Bromwich Albion (4-5-1): Miller; Holmes (Hughes, 67), Burgess, Mardon, Smith; Coldicott, Sneekes (Evans, h-t), Hamilton, Butler, Kilbane; Hunt. Substitute not used: Dobson.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Margetson; Edghill, Symons, Vaughan, Horlock (Van Blerk, 4); Russell, Brown, Wiekens, Brannan; Kinkladze (Rosler, 89), Dickov. Substitute not used: Shelia.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).