Horsefield starts the canter

West Bromwich Albion 3 Coventry City 0
Click to follow
The Independent Football

West Bromwich Albion had three reasons to be cheerful after this comfortable victory. Not only did they assert their local superiority in this Midlands derby, but more importantly they also went joint top of the First Division.

They now only trail Norwich City, who play a derby of their own today against Ipswich, on goal difference. To round off a happy afternoon for the Baggies, their closest rivals for second place, Wigan, managed to lose at home to Crewe.

Gary Megson acknowledged later that this had not been Albion's most fluid 90 minutes of the season. However, he did feel that his side deserved victory on the basis of their work-rate alone.

The West Brom manager said: "Hopefully we can play better in the future. But as for showing desire, drive, determination and gut-wrenching effort, it doesn't come much better than this." That gritted-teeth approach was perhaps not surprising. They had not scored for two games before this fixture, and the last time a striker from this starting line-up had scored for them was Geoff Horsfield six games previously.

Naturally, it was Horsfield who produced a goal just when it was needed, midway through the first half. The former Birmingham striker epitomised Albion's effort and his goal showed how dangerous he can be. With 23 minutes gone, a long ball was all it took to set him up. He held off the challenge of Steve Staunton and then fired through goalkeeper Scott Shearer's legs for his fifth goal in 12 appearances since signing for £1m in December from Wigan.

In an increasingly physical match - indeed, Coventry's manager, Eric Black, highlighted that as the reason for Albion's win - that strike dented City's hopes of notching up their fifth consecutive away League win, and with it a new club record.

Their hopes of achieving that disappeared eight minutes into the second half, and again Horsfield was involved as he set up a goal for his strike partner Rob Hulse.

A throw-in from James Chambers fell to Horsfield, who spun around Staunton and flicked a powerful shot. Shearer kept it out but could only parry the ball to Hulse, whose volley marked his first goal in 14 games.

Given that Hulse's personal goal drought stretched back four months, Megson could have felt justified in playing Lee Hughes against his former side. However, Megson explained that Hughes had been feeling the effects of a cold and said: "I thought a fit Rob Hulse was better than an unfit Lee Hughes."

Black tried to get Coventry back into the game with some late changes, but one of those only contributed to a goal against his side. Craig Pead had only been on the pitch five minutes when Delroy Facey sent in a low cross 11 minutes from time. Pead, off- balance and covering back, controlled the ball but only succeeded in setting up Mark Kinsella, and from five yards out the Irishman made no mistake in scoring his first goal for the club.

West Bromwich Albion 3 Coventry City 0
Horsfield 23, Hulse 53, Kinsella 79

Half-time 1-0 Attendance: 25,414