West Bromwich 3, Cardiff City 3: Greening's young guns find target from the air

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The Independent Online

Emirates Stadium regulars may snigger – and those at Molineux certainly will – but it is not so fanciful to regard West Bromwich Albion as the Arsenal of the Championship.

A little over a season and a half's work has brought them the small matter of 170 league and cup goals and, increasingly, they come via delightful attacking; silky smooth through midfield, into feet, round the corner to wingers or overlapping full-backs and often with a stunning end product. Like Arsène Wenger, though, Tony Mowbray suddenly sees another well of goals emerging – if his pure principles will allow him to draw from it.

In recovering from 2-0 and 3-1 down to frustrate a Cardiff City side who led for almost the whole match, Albion went unusually direct and were reminded that headers from crosses can sometimes get the same job done. Roman Bednar's 10th goal in 12 games was expertly buried from his captain Jonathan Greening's free-kick and Martin Albrechtsen launched their second resurgence by dispatching a deep delivery from Chris Brunt, probably the Championship's best crosser.

Centres went in from areas where Albion normally instigate flowing moves, their aerial dominance established by Bednar and Zoltan Gera in an unusual tale of one substitute being pipped to man-of-the-match honours by another.

And Cardiff's assurance was sufficiently worn down for Roger Johnson to slice the equaliser freakishly over his own goalkeeper from Gera's cross two minutes from the end of normal time.

Albion conceded four in the first half-hour at home to these same opponents in the Carling Cup in September and, as a rampant Coventry City also discovered in December, are not above caving in during Championship games at The Hawthorns either.

What they have, though, is belief; belief that they will eventually score more. "We know we are good going forward and feel we can get goals against anybody," Greening said. "Last season, we would have lost that game. Now, we're buzzing."

Unfortunately for Albion, who could be without the on-loan Ishmael Miller for six weeks with a hamstring injury, similarities with Arsenal are not total. Heaven knows the carnage awaiting their defenders on this form next season because Cardiff could have had more than the three goals that swept them close to a fifth successive victory.

The jet-heeled Paul Parry struck twice superbly, Joe Ledley scoring a third and scooping inches over an unguarded net at the death.

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