Robson finds home life improved by Wallwork

West Bromwich Albion 2 Manchester City 0
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The Independent Football

Saturday night's all right for fighting relegation, as West Bromwich Albion proved with a win that sets up a potentially momentous February for the Premiership's bottom club and will have been as great a relief for Bryan Robson's other half as for the Albion manager.

Saturday night's all right for fighting relegation, as West Bromwich Albion proved with a win that sets up a potentially momentous February for the Premiership's bottom club and will have been as great a relief for Bryan Robson's other half as for the Albion manager.

After the first victory in the nine weeks since he returned to Albion, Robson revealed that he had not been the best post-match company during a seemingly unending sequence of setbacks. "When I get beaten, I go home, watch the tape and don't go out," he said. "I put the wife through the video too, so you can guess she's not very happy. Now that we've finally won, I'll be having a few glasses of wine."

The first 12 days of next month should determine whether it is to be vino for the Robsons or collapso for Albion. They face Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Southampton in succession, with only the middle match away from home. None of the trio, who all picked up points earlier in the day to put pressure on Albion, are likely to be as obliging as Manchester City, who lived up to their mercurial reputation by producing end-of-season lethargy in January.

The scorers were also the game's outstanding performers. Kevin Campbell and Ronnie Wallwork embody the revivalist spirit at The Hawthorns, each having resurfaced with a vengeance after all but slipping off the radar in much the manner that Albion have been in danger of doing. Eight months after his previous goal - also against City - Campbell, 34, shot the club he joined on a free transfer from Everton into an early lead and combined power and poise to link attacks.

Campbell's frustration on the Goodison Park fringes would have seen him drop a division to Leeds United had David Moyes had a bigger squad. "Kevin did well every time I saw him play," Robson said. "So I was really pleased that James Beattie went to Everton rather than Villa because I thought there might be a chance of getting him."

Wallwork, whose nephew Kyle is on City's books, sealed the points with a perfectly timed late run and plunging header that could have been Robson in his bubble-permed pomp. A Mancunian who grew up idolising the former United captain from the Stretford End, the 27-year-old midfielder was so peripheral to the plans of Gary Megson that he loaned him to Bradford City during Albion's promotion charge last spring.

"I'd become the forgotten man," Wallwork admitted before hitting the town with City-supporting friends who had been texting him all week with warnings about what Kevin Keegan's team would do to Albion. Robson reasoned the midfielders he inherited were too similar - ball-players like Zoltan Gera and Jason Koumas - and felt he could make use of the former Old Trafford reserve's "football intelligence" and ability to "get a foot in".

City have more of the former quality than Albion and too little of the latter. The only team that can complete a double over Chelsea, they are also the side that lost to Oldham. "Spurs and Liverpool have got done too," Keegan said. "I'm not saying that makes it right, but it says that the bottom clubs are scrapping for their lives. I don't like the way we're being perceived by other people and the players don't either."

Keegan is pursuing loan deals for Kiki Musampa, a Dutch winger from Atletico Madrid, and Juanfran, a Spanish left-back with Besiktas. Nicolas Anelka should join Fenerbahce once his back problem has eased. Yet it may be a less than ideal time for bedding in personnel. City's next three fixtures also have a certain resonance: home to Newcastle and Manchester United, with a trip to Chelsea in between.

Goals: Campbell (5) 1-0; Wallwork (81) 2-0.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Hoult; Albrechtsen, Purse, Clement, Robinson; Gera, Scimeca, Wallwork, Greening; Earnshaw (Horsfield, 58), Campbell (Gaardsoe, 90). Substitutes not used: Kuszczak (gk), Contra, Kanu.

Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Mills, Dunne, Distin, Jordan; S Wright-Phillips, Barton, Bosvelt, Sibierski (McManaman, 68); Macken (B Wright-Phillips, 68), Fowler. Substitutes not used: Waterreus (gk), Sommeil, Onuoha.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: West Bromwich Robinson, Gera.

Man of the match: Wallwork.

Attendance: 25,348.

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