Long shows his spirit of adventure

West Bromwich Albion 2 Bolton Wanderers 1

The Hawthorns

This game looked such a hard sell that the home club felt moved to slash ticket prices by almost two thirds and the visitors to lay on free coach travel for their fans. In the event, it drew the biggest Hawthorns crowd of the season – more than watched Manchester United and Liverpool. And those with an eye for a bargain should be applauded for their judgement.

They saw a fine contest, shaded deservedly by Albion, who took an early lead, threw it away with a needless penalty but then dominated the second half, during which Shane Long, the Republic of Ireland striker who suffered a chipped bone in his knee only a month ago, capped an unexpectedly swift return by heading the winning goal.

Naturally, Roy Hodgson, their manager, was delighted. He had supervised a performance full of energy and decisive, intelligent movement, illuminated with perceptive passing that even Owen Coyle, a manager who appreciates quality football, might have admired, had he not been naturally swayed by partiality and the disappointment that his side had been unable to build on their 5-0 thumping of Stoke two weeks ago.

There were so many candidates for man of the match it was difficult to decide who merited it most. The sponsors chose Zoltan Gera, whose performance in his first home gameof the season justified Hodgson's decision to return to Fulham for the 32-year-old Hungarian and offer him the chance to resurrect his Hawthorns career. But there were others who might equally have got the nod.

Jerome Thomas, apart from giving away the penalty with a clumsy tumble into Fabrice Muamba, gave an excellent display on the left flank and kept his cool, with Bolton defenders looking for offside, to take the ball around Jussi Jaaskelainen and score when Gera's sweet pass slipped him clear after 16 minutes.

Nicky Shorey, recalled at left-back supplied a string of probing passes and delivered an inch-perfect cross for the 56th-minute winner that Long guided home. Chris Brunt worked diligently on the other wing and no one was more pivotal in keeping Bolton running this way and that than James Morrison.

And then there was Long, who had been expected to be out for up to eight weeks after a challenge from Alan Hutton – described at the time by Hodgson as "wicked" – led to him limping out of the win at Aston Villa.

Hodgson revealed that Long had been putting in double shifts in training to accelerate his return and that there had been no hesitation in allowing him back. "Doctors are cautious but players are adventurous and in Shane you have someone who is on the adventurous side of adventurous," he said. "He is Tintin-plus. He was determined he was going to play and the doctors did not try to stop him."

Enthused though he was with Albion – "if we can do the same for the next 26 games I will be a very happy man" – Hodgson was unwilling to forgive referee Neil Swarbrick for giving the penalty against Thomas from which Ivan Klasnic scored.

"I just don't like this new wave of penalties," he said, referring at the same time to one conceded, by Thomas again, against Liverpool. "I was furious about it, as I was about the Liverpool one, and I will use my 64 years and my experience to justify not changing my position. I don't think penalties should be awarded in those circumstances."

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-1-1): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Brunt, Morrison, Mulumbu (Cox, 90), Thomas (Dorrans, 80); Gera, Long.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Riley, Cahill, Wheater, Robinson; M Davies, Reo-Coker, Muamba (Kakuta, 81), Eagles (Petrov, 70); K Davies (Ngog, 69), Klasnic.

Referee Neil Swarbrick.

Man of the match Morrison (West Bromwich).

Match rating 8/10.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain