Earnshaw double gives Albion hope

Southampton 2 - West Bromwich Albion 2
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The Independent Online

It won't be Glenn Hoddle. Nor Paul Jewell. And just in case the players thought there was any chance of it, Frank Burrows, the West Brom caretaker manager, has been telling his squad that Gary Megson won't be coming back either.

It won't be Glenn Hoddle. Nor Paul Jewell. And just in case the players thought there was any chance of it, Frank Burrows, the West Brom caretaker manager, has been telling his squad that Gary Megson won't be coming back either.

So, who does that leave as a candidate to replace the sacked Megson, the man who twice took the Baggies up to the Premiership? Possibly Bryan Robson, a hero from his playing days at the Hawthorns in their entertaining side from the late 1970s managed by Ron Atkinson.

However, his managerial record has never come close to matching his achievements as a midfield captain of England and Manchester United, even though he did take Middlesbrough up to the Premiership twice, while being allowed to spend a lot of his chairman's money. His stint with Bradford last season, as the Bantams were relegated, is probably best forgotten.

Burrows himself was saying he had been talking to his chairman Jeremy Peace about the future of the club, but that those talks would remain private. The Scot did concede, however, that "the club has lost a bit of direction", while also saying he did not know if he would be in charge by the time their game against Middlesbrough comes up this Sunday.

Yet for 50 minutes, Albion, who have still only won once this season, were in the lead and you were entitled to ask what difference would a permanent manager in the dug-out have made? With two goals here - his first for the club since joining from Cardiff at the end of August - Robert Earnshaw helped his team come back from Anders Svensson's early header.

Then, with three minutes of the second half gone, came the pivotal moment. An Alan Blayney save was helped into Earnshaw's path by Jelle van Damme's miscued clearance and Earnshaw's instinctive overhead kick was only inches wide. If that had gone in, that would have made the difference, rather than any amount of shouting from Burrows.

Instead, the Saints, who have not won in the League since Steve Wigley took over from Paul Sturrock 10 games ago, remained in contention for a point at least, which came their way when Svensson's shot was deflected by Paul Robinson.

Burrows' quote about a club losing direction applied just as much to their opponents. Stuck in the relegation zone, Wigley finally mentioned how much losing key players to injury has cost them on the pitch.

With goalkeeper Antti Niemi having joined the casualty list, Wigley was without at least five first-team players on Saturday.

Svensson summed up the club's problems. He said: "We got in front for once and everything was good. Then we lost concentration and suddenly we were two-one down. It has been frustrating all season, conceding sloppy goals.

"This was a great opportunity to get three points. We are not strong enough and we just need to be a bit more solid and stop taking risks."

Goals: Svensson (28) 1-0; Earnshaw (29) 1-1; Earnshaw (37) 1-2; Svensson (87) 2-2. Southampton (4-4-2): Blayney; Kenton, Lundekvam, Jakobsson (McCann, 60), Van Damme; Nilsson (Prutton, 84), Delap, Telfer, A Svensson; Blackstock (Ormerod, 64), Phillips. Substitutes not used: Poke (gk), Higginbotham.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Hoult; Scimeca, Moore, Purse, Robinson; Gera (Koumas, 84), Clement, Johnson, Greening; Kanu (Horsfield, 77), Earnshaw. Substitutes not used: Kuszczak (gk), Albrechtsen, Dyer.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Southampton: Kenton, Blackstock, Svensson.

Man of the match: Earnshaw.

Attendance: 31,057.

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