Bednar strikes to maintain Baggies' hot streak

West Bromwich Albion 1 Fulham 0
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The Independent Online

By David Instone at the hawthorns

Life in the top division continues to suit West Bromwich Albion. What is now their best start to a Premier League season has them up to eighth, this third victory in four matches strengthening Tony Mowbray's belief that his side will be able to survive this time.

Against opponents who are still without an away point, Roman Bednar's 61st-minute goal kept the Baggies' fans boing-boinging and provided more insurance for when the going gets tougher for the team.

It was a deserved breakthrough because Albion were completely dominant in the second half. Fulham's fourth straight defeat shredded what was left of their own bright opening month.

Albion also hit the woodwork through Ryan Donk and it was around Mark Schwarzer's goal that most of the serious action took place.

"We created more chances," Mowbray said. "The win gives us more confidence and shows that we shouldn't fear this division. We can feel the quality of the teams we're facing but the players deserve credit because they are competing with that quality."

After Donk's effort Fulham survived again when Danny Murphy deflected James Morrison's header over the bar from Borja Valero's corner. There was, however, no repelling the resulting follow-up kick from Valero on the left. Bednar, whose previous two goals had been penalties, forced home left-footed from close range after Donk's unsuccessful swish at the ball.

Albion's pressure represented a welcome increase in tempo following a pedestrian first half in which Fulham kept the home side largely at arm's length, even if their own attacking threat came from distance.

Bednar might have done better than shoot into Schwarzer's hands after wrong-footing Aaron Hughes from Jonathan Greening's fine tackle and pass, while Scott Carson safely handled two efforts by Clint Dempsey and watched Jimmy Bullard's curling free-kick clear his bar by a foot.

The goalkeeper could do nothing, though, when Dempsey took advantage of Donk's complacency from Paul Konchesky's ball by setting Zoltan Gera up for an inviting opening that he side-footed inches wide.

Although the excellent Robert Koren deflected Murphy's shot a fraction wide as Fulham pushed for an equaliser, the Slovenian and Bednar may have settled it at the other end had it not been for Schwarzer.

"I don't have any reason to be really critical of the performance," said Fulham's manager, Roy Hodgson. "I'm just unhappy that we didn't take anything from the game."

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