Roberts sparks off Albion dominance

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The Independent Online

A resurgent West Bromwich Albion maintained their early-season momentum at The Hawthorns, where victory by what was eventually a comfortable margin extended a promising run of results to one defeat in 12 matches as Wimbledon were found to lack a cutting edge.

A resurgent West Bromwich Albion maintained their early-season momentum at The Hawthorns, where victory by what was eventually a comfortable margin extended a promising run of results to one defeat in 12 matches as Wimbledon were found to lack a cutting edge.

Impressive Albion swept into a commanding position within 21 minutes, providing exhilarating evidence of the confidence a good start to the season has instilled in Gary Megson's erstwhile strugglers. The manager's shrewd summer signings have effectively transformed a team almost relegated last season into one that so far appears to have genuine play-off prospects.

Jason Roberts, one of those new recruits, gave Albion the lead in the ninth minute, chasing his strike partner Lee Hughes' flick and bustling Mark Williams off the ball before beating the Wimbledon goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

That lead was doubled by a fine goal, started and finished by Jason van Blerk, who first created panic with a penetrating dribble on the left flank and was ultimately on hand to head home splendidly at the far post once the ball was hooked back from wide on the right by Hughes.

Wimbledon again missed flu victim John Hartson, although the home side were indebted to Brian Jensen for preserving their two-goal advantage when the Danish goalkeeper pulled off excellent saves in quick succession from Marcus Gayle and Jason Euell.

However, after Davis had prevented a third Albion goal with a save from McInnes, Wimbledon were given a potential lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Euell scored from the spot after Matt Carbon, tussling with Damien Francis just inside the box, was ruled to have controlled the ball with a hand.

The goal was a timely boost for Wimbledon, who forced the home side to defend much more in the second half and made Albion look decidedly uneasy as they struggled to retain possession. Five minutes from time, however, the substitute Richard Sneekes made the points safe, driving home a fine shot from 20 yards.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Jensen; Chambers, Butler, Carbon, Clement; Fox, McInnes (Sneekes, 54), Jordao, Van Blerk; J Roberts, Hughes. Substitutes not used: Adamson (gk), Lyttle, Taylor, Burgess.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Davis; Holloway, Williams, Wilmott, Kimble (Agyemang, 68); Hunt, Francis, Andersen, Harley; Euell (Karlsson, 77), Gayle. Substitutes not used: Feuer (gk), A Roberts, Grier, Karlsson.

Referee: T Jones (Cumbria).

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