Megson's stern words inspire Baggies' victory

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The Independent Online

"We must be brave enough to change the things we need changing. If we aren't, nothing will change." So said the West Bromwich Albion manager, Gary Megson, in yesterday's match programme.

"We must be brave enough to change the things we need changing. If we aren't, nothing will change." So said the West Bromwich Albion manager, Gary Megson, in yesterday's match programme.

Presumably he made a bit more sense at half-time, because the Baggies emerged transformed from the nervous, stumbling early relegation candidates who struggled through the first 45 minutes.

A good job too. Apparently there is nothing, geographically speaking, between The Hawthorns and the Ural mountains, and a record of played four, lost four, would have left Albion feeling as though there was a similarly unbridgeable gap to First Division safety.

Given Gerry Francis was deprived of the services of three of his most experienced players, this was always going to be Albion's best chance of opening their account.

It looked as though they were going to blow it when Rangers opened the scoring. Though against the general run of play, it was not unexpected for the visitors had already proved themselves to be dangerous on the break. A corner from the left was half cleared, Clarke Carlisle hooked it hopefully back towards the six-yard line, and it fell nicely for Chris Kiwomya to sidefoot home.

When Jason van Blerk was denied by a combination of Jermaine Darlington and the post just before the break Albion must have feared the worst, but within 30 seconds of the restart their luck changed. Head down, Lee Hughes bundled the ball into the area, forcing the defenders to close ranks to stop him. Lee Harper saved brilliantly when Bob Taylor seized on the loose ball, but was still grounded when Van Blerk stroked home the rebound.

Confidence flooded through Albion, and their momentum built. Rangers' youngsters were up for the fight, not least the impressive midfielder Richard Langley, but the loss of Paul Furlong to injury before half-time deprived them of a crucial outlet and the pressure grew.

The dam finally broke when Hughes robbed Steve Morrow, possibly illegally, on the right. Criminally, the former Arsenal man stopped and complained to the referee; Hughes took the ball on, and his cross-shot was deflected past Harper at his near-post by Chris Plummer.

So what had Megson said at half-time? Not a lot, because by that stage he reckoned they were already comfortably the better team - a point of view which the most one-eyed home supporter is unlikely to share.

"But I lost my temper and gave them a good going over at twenty to two," he said. "They took those words and rammed them back down my throat." Indeed.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Jensen; Lyttle, Butler, J Chambers, Clement; Van Blerk, Jordao (Oliver, 86), McInnes, Fox (Sneekes, 81); Taylor, Hughes. Substitutes not used; Adamson (gk), Quinn, A Chambers.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Harper; Plummer, Morrow, Carlisle, Darlington (Breacker, 85); Warren, Langley, Wardley, Perry (Connolly, 85); Furlong (Crouch, 44), Kiwomya. Substitutes not used: Miklosko (gk), Rowland.

Referee: S Mathieson (Stockport).

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