A tale of two centre-forwards unfolded at The Hawthorns on Saturday. Born barely a month apart, Peter Odemwingie and Johan Elmander both plied their trade around Europe before reaching the Premier League. Each confronted adversity and abuse before demonstrating his true worth, leaving their respective managers, Roberto Di Matteo and Owen Coyle, purring over their impact.
Albion paid an undisclosed seven-figure sum to rescue Odemwingie, a Russian-born Nigerian, from the racist bile of Lokomotiv Moscow fans. While the 29-year-old did not add to his three goals on Saturday, an exemplary lone striker's performance culminated in the cross for James Morrison's equaliser before he almost set up a winner for Chris Brunt.
"He's a team player who works hard," Di Matteo said after Albion took their unbeaten run to four games and became the Midlands' highest-placed club. "He only arrived at the end of August but he's been tremendous. You need to have a bit of luck when you sign players. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn't. We've been lucky with him."
Bolton's club-record £8.2m purchase of Elmander in 2008, when Gary Megson was manager, looked to be firmly in the "not working out" category when he mustered only three league goals last season but the Swede's well-crafted and expertly taken opener here was his fourth of the current campaign.
"He's shown great mental strength because he was panned from pillar to post," Coyle said. "He came with a big fee and a reputation, and every Tom, Dick and Harry had a pop at him. I saw everything in his locker to be a top player. I chat with him every day on the training ground. As an ex-striker, I can impart some knowledge, and though I wasn't capable of playing at his level, I could score a goal. I've tried to help to that end, little bits and pieces."
West Bromwich Albion 4-1-4-1: Carson; Jara, Tamas, Olsson, Shorey; Mulumbu; Brunt, Scharner (Cox, 71), Dorrans (Barnes, 60), Morrison (Tchoyi, 90); Odemwingie. Substitutes not used Myhill (gk), Ibanez, Reid, Fortune.
Booked Tamas, Jara, Morrison.
Bolton Wanderers 4-4-2: Jasskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Lee (Taylor, 76), Muamba, Holden, Petrov; Elmander (M Davies, 81), K Davies. Substitutes not used Bogdan (gk), Klasnic, Ricketts, Moreno, Blake.
Booked Elmander, M Davies.
Man of the match Mulumbu.
Possession West Bromwich 48% Bolton 52%.
Shots on target West Bromwich 9 Bolton 5.
Referee P Walton (Northamptonshire). Attendance 22,846. Match rating 6/10.Reuse content