Iwelumo pulls down worn-out Baggies

Bristol City 2 West Bromwich Albion1: West Bromwich fail to recapture second spot after four-minute mauling, writes David Instone
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The Independent Online

To call this a surprise result would be to tell only half the story. On the evidence of a first half which had West Bromwich Albion's silky skills imprinted all over it not even the most optimistic West Countryman could have claimed a vision of Bristol City's first victory in eight matches.

And the turnaround effected by two goals in four minutes just before the hour did more than lift the pressure growing on City manager, Gary Johnson. It will also have encouraged Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest. Amid what appears to be a two-from-three race for the Premier League, Albion became a shambolic bunch in the final two-thirds of a game. Top last Wednesday teatime, they are now out of the leading two places and are struggling under the weight of injuries, suspensions and a backlog of fixtures.

This was a major setback for them following a nine-match unbeaten run containing five wins; all the more so for the grip they seemed to have established. "We're very disappointed," said their manager, Roberto di Matteo. "You could see we were lacking a little bit of everything. I'm angry because we were in the driving seat and comfortable until the equaliser. I would hope to get a few players back, we have been relying on the same bodies and there's mental and physical fatigue."

Dave Clarkson was the only player to have scored for Bristol City in seven matches so goals in from Chris Iwelumo and Lee Johnson, neither of whom had netted since last spring, were unexpected. The decisive contribution, though, came from Danny Haynes, who produced a Walcott-esque performance that included the bewitching run that set up Johnson's tap-in winner. .

There was irony in the identity of Bristol's first scorer. This season Iwelumo has twice broken his metatarsal playing for Albion's arch rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and is on loan for a month. He has been signed mainly for his aerial presence and to gain match practice but was left unmarked when he stabbed in off Scott Carson for his 100th career goal after Louis Carey chested on Johnson's corner.

Albion were tepid by way of response, and it was only in the last five minutes they threatened an equaliser, Roman Bednar twice having angled shots saved.

Graham Dorrans had tested Dean Gerken with a low 25-yard sighter and Bednar also demanded a fine save before the breakthrough came mid-way through the half. Gianni Zuiverloon's pass into yards of space in the area was perfect for Dorrans and, with his trusty right foot, he arrowed his 13th goal of the season in low off the far post.

"If you give the ball away players like that will punish you," said Gary Johnson. "Dorrans is clever enough to get free in space but, just after that goal we started wrestling the ball back. We were in their faces, playing with passion and a lot of quality. It's nice to see smiling faces in the dressing room again."

Bristol City (4-4-2): Gerken; Orr, Carey, Nyatanga, Fontaine; Haynes (Sproule, 83), Elliott, Johnson (Hartley, 90), Skuse; Iwelumo, Clarkson (Maynard, 80). Substitutes not used: Collis (gk), Williams, Plummer, Edwards.

West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Carson; Zuiverloon (Wood, 80), Tamas, Olsson, Mattock; Mulumbu; Brunt, Koren (Cox, 61), Dorrans, Nouble (Slory, 55); Bednar. Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Moore, Meite, Thorne.

Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Booked: West Bromwich Olsson, Brunt, Bednar, Cox.

Man of the match: Haynes.

Attendance: 14,374.

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