Championship League Focus: Mellon volley bears fruit

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The Independent Online
West Bromwich Albion 1 Sheffield United 0 ALAN BUCKLEY, who West Bromwich Albion hope to prise from Grimsby today as their new manager, saw and heard much to encourage him as the team Keith Burkinshaw left behind climbed off the bottom of the First Division at the Hawthorns last night.

Micky Mellon's first goal of the season, which an international goalkeeper like Alan Kelly might have been expected to save, doubled Albion's tally of victories and prompted a rapturous response from their fans massed in the new, snappily named West Midlands Community Travel Stand.

Albion, in the caretaker charge of John Trewick pending agreement with Buckley's present employers over compensation, demonstrated that whoever becomes their 11th manager in 13 years will inherit a side prepared to battle their way out of trouble.

As Mellon admitted afterwards: 'We were very hyped up - not because of the position of the manager but because of the position of the club. There's been a cloud hanging over us for a long time, and sooner or later we knew something had to be sorted out.'

Dave Bassett's teams are not noted for shirking challenges. United's determination to end their own poor run contributed to a fractious match of six bookings. They had the better of exchanges before Albion scored, but did not seriously threaten Stuart Naylor's security until Stacy Caldicutt cleared off the line from Scott Marshall's last-minute header.

The only goal, midway through the second half, followed a spell of pressure in which Kelly clawed an Andy Hunt header from beneath the bar and David Smith fired against a post. When Albion came again, Mellon's volley from 18 yards seemed to squirm through the grasp of the diving Kelly.

It was the kind of good fortune which conspicuously deserted Burkinshaw towards the end of his 17-month tenure. Albion, who may have to pay a total of pounds 500,000 by way of compensation to the sacked Burkinshaw and to Grimsby, must trust that the change in their luck psses to Trewick to his 'permanent' successor.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Naylor; Parsley, Mardon (O'Regan, 88), Edwards, Lilwall; Ashcroft, Coldicott, Mellan, Smith; Hunt, Taylor.

Substitutes not used: Heggs, Lange (gk).

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kelly; Gage, Gayle, Marshall, Scott; Ward, Rogers, Gannan, Whitehouse; Flo (Blake, 69), Littlejohn (Veart, 69). Substitute not used: Mercer.

Referee: E Wolstenholme (Blackburn).