West Bromwich Albion 1 Fulham 0: Bednar brings substance to Baggies' promising start

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The Independent Football

It is one of the contradictions of these early skirmishes that a side as pleasing on the eye as West Bromwich Albion should be exploiting set pieces so pragmatically as to make this their best Premier League start.

A messy goal by their giant centre-half Jonas Olsson chiselled out three points at Middlesbrough nine days ago. On Saturday, again from a corner, a scruffy finish by their battering ram of a centre-forward, Roman Bednar, condemned Fulham to the same fate.

For all the flair that swept them to last season's Championship title Albion are proving there are other ways to secure that all-important foothold among the elite.

A return of one point from three opening games has been followed by three victories out of four and established considerable daylight between them and the initial strugglers.

Less than two months in and Albion head next to Manchester United but, hey, they are enjoying themselves and there is no hint yet of the sort of attritional struggle they had in their previous three Premier League campaigns.

"It's important to get home wins and this was a six-point game," said Bednar, after adding to his goals from penalties against Everton and West Ham United. "It was a great day for us but I never think we will go down."

But Fulham should still keep their heads above water; Albion, through the likes of Robert Koren and their admirable captain Jonathan Greening, also produce pockets of quality that suggest they can this time deliver more than just a survival battle.

Goal: Bednar (61) 1-0.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon, Donk, Olsson, Robinson; Greening, Koren, Valero, Morrison (Cech, 78); Bednar, Miller (Moore, 63). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Hoefkens, Barnett, MacDonald, Pele.

Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Pantsil (Stoor, 82), Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Davies, Bullard, Murphy (Andreasen, 87), Gera; Dempsey; Zamora (Seol, 71). Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler (gk), Nevland, Kallio, Baird.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: West Bromwich Albion Olsson, Valero; Fulham Andreasen.

Man of the match: Koren.

Attendance: 25,708.