West Bromwich 4 Charlton Athletic 2: Gera's style keeps Albion looking good

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The Independent Online

The problem with players like Zoltan Gera is that on their day, they are simply too good for this division. It is a nice problem as long as his team keep performing at the same level but if West Brom fail to return to the Premier League in six months' time, holding on to the likes of the Hungarian midfielder will be a tough ask which then of course hinders progress for the subsequent campaign.

It is a scenario faced by most ambitious Championship clubs so manager Tony Mowbray is just hoping that the best footballling side in the division can keep their nerve and make it back into the top flight after a two-season absence.

History is full of attractive teams who lose in playoff finals and find it hard to get over the shock. But after hitting top spot on Saturday, West Brom appear to have recovered from the heartbreak of missing out to Derby and Mowbray is optimistic of clinching an automatic promotion spot this time.

To do so, he refuses to compromise his principles. "We try to play a certain way every week, passing, flowing football. At times I get criticised for being out fought and an idealist. If we miss out again I'll be there to take the criticism but I like technical players," Mowbray said.

None are technically more eye-catching than Gera, whose two goals on Saturday and all-round strength and perception underlined what an asset he is to his club. Question is, can Mowbray persuade him to stay when his contract expires at the end of the season?

"Zoltan is enjoying his football and I think he is happy in his family life," was Mowbray's response. "He is at a club where he is appreciated by the players, the management and the supporters and I hope he would see his future at our club."

Albion fell behind to Chris Iwelumo's strike moments before Charlton's leading marksman limped off injured. Roman Bednar and Gera put the hosts in control before substitute Izale McLeod fired Charlton back on level terms. Gera and that old poacher Kevin Phillips who came off the bench to score his 11th goal of the season after a six-week absence then sealed Albion's first home win in four games.

Charlton had won their previous four away games without conceding a goal and although they played their part in a pulsating encounter with a similar formation to that of their opponents, manager Alan Pardew admitted his makeshift back four struggled to cope. The veteran Chris Powell, in particular, was at fault for not picking up Gera for both his goals.

As well as losing Iwelumo, Andy Reid Charlton's most influential player had to come off with a knee injury while Darren Ambrose hurt his groin. All three are doubtful for the start of the Christmas period and Pardew is hoping to spend in the transfer window to augment his squad in order to keep their own promotion push on the rails.

Goals: Iwelumo 37 (1-0), Bednar 43 (1-1), Gera 50 (1-2), McLeod 73 (2-2), Gera 80 (3-2), Phillips 84 (4-2).

West Bromwich (4-5-1) Steele; Hodgkiss, Cesar, Pele, Robinson; Gera, Greening, Koren, Brunt, Filipe Teixeira (Phillips 71); Bednar (MacDonald 90). Substitutes not used: Barnett, Beattie, Martis.

Charlton (4-5-1) Weaver; Sodje, Bougherra, Semedo, Powell; Ambrose (Varney 65), Zhi, Holland, Reid (Sankofa 69), Thomas; Iwelumo (McLeod 45). Substitutes not used: Randolph, McCarthy.

Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Charlton Bougherra, Sodje, Holland.

Man of the match: Gera.

Attendance: 20,346.

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