Riccardo Scimeca, deemed not good enough to help West Bromwich stay in the Premiership, last night showed his former side it will not be easy getting back there with the goal to earn Cardiff City a draw.
Yet Bryan Robson, the West Bromwich manager, seemed more concerned with his worsening striking problems than any culture shocks on his return to the second tier. Scimeca, released on a free by Albion last season, headed home Stephen McPhail's cross on 33 minutes to cancel out Zoltan Gera's 4th-minute opener for Robson's promotion hopefuls.
And the more the Bluebirds applied pressure, the more West Bromwich fans awoke to the fact that comfortable wins are not regular occurrences in the Championship.
"For 20 minutes [after the equaliser] we looked like we had a bit of a shock," Robson said. "But we've spoken about this before and it wasn't a surprise and that's why we were able to battle through it. It was one of the reasons we toured Scotland, because the sides there are similar to some at this level.
"We got a good start then we were hanging on, but we coped with it and we will be stronger for it. But we know this will be a very tough season whatever."
It could be tougher if Albion's lack of numbers in attack continues to show, with John Hartson having to lead the line alone after Nathan Ellington's injury. Robson pleaded his case as to just why he has failed to attract a goalscorer while a more than happy Dave Jones could not believe his luck that shot-shy Scimeca has suddenly found his sights.
After Cardiff had gone behind when Hartson's flick-on came off the bar and into Gera's path, Neil Alexander's 28th-minute save from Nathan Ellington changed the game as the Bluebirds piled on the pressure, culminating in Scimeca's header from Stephen McPhail's cross.
"Someone told me Ricky Scimeca didn't score goals but he's had more shots in the last two games than all of last season," Jones said. "This was a good test."
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Gilbert, Loovens, Johnson, McNaughton; Parry (Flood, 86), Scimeca, McPhail, Ledley; Thompson (Campbell, 80), Chopra. Substitutes not used: Howard (gk), Whitley, Gombard.
West Bromwich (4-4-2): Zuberbühler; Watson, Perry, Davies, Robinson; Gera, Quashie, Wallwork (Inamoto, 75), Greening (Chaplow, 65); Ellington (Carter, 43), Hartson. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Albrechtsen.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
* Robert Earnshaw returned to goalscoring form as Norwich got their first three points of the season with victory over Preston at Carrow Road last night.
The Wales international forward, who spurned a host of chances in his side's 1-0 opening-day defeat to Leeds, wrapped up a 2-0 win with a goal eight minutes from time from Paul McVeigh's pin-point cross.
The Canaries had taken the lead 10 minutes after half-time when the Preston defender Sean St Ledger put through his own goal. Preston's frustration boiled over in injury time as Graham Alexander was dismissed for a reckless lunge at Adam Drury.Reuse content