Roberts' history-making adds fuel to the Black Country feud
West Bromwich Albion 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 4
Monday 16 September 1996
True, there were only two bookings, but the tackling was as ferocious as the current interpretation of the law allows, the tempo rarely dropped below a frenzy, and tempers in the stands were constantly in danger of boiling over.
To underline the point, fighting even broke out within the supposedly genteel confines of the family stand, as West Brom supporters, frustrated at seeing their heroes three down inside half an hour, made a determined advance on the visitors' end.
If only their players had shown similar urgency and aggression early on they might have avoided defeat.As it was, their centre-back partnership of Paul Raven and Daryl Burgess showed about as much togetherness as Liam and Noel, allowing Iwan Roberts to become the first Wolves player to score a hat-trick at The Hawthorns in the history of this fixture.
By the time Albion rediscovered their tribal pride, they were already all but beaten, although that didn't prevent them staging a gun-slinging second half assault on the Wolves goal which left their honour satisfied, if not their supporters.
In the opening stages, it seemed as though every set piece was worth a goal to Wolves as Stephen Froggatt flummoxed the flat-footed home defence with inswinging corners and long throws to the goal-scoring delight of Roberts and Steve Bull.
Having decided that in their case, attack is certainly the best form of defence, Albion threw on Bob Taylor as a half-time substitute, and committed the previously subdued Richard Sneekes to a forward-running role.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, Mark McGhee, cheerfully conceded that had Taylor's 83rd-minute goal not been disallowed for offside, from a position of 4-3 down, West Brom might even have gone on to win.
Goals: Roberts (5) 0-1, Bull (15) 0-2, Roberts (28) 0-3, Hamilton (42) 1-3, Roberts (53) 1-4, Taylor (56) 2-4.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Crichton; Holmes, Mardon (Donovan, 79), Burgess, Nicholson; Hamilton, Sneekes, Groves, D Smith (Gilbert, h-t); Peschisolido (Taylor, h-t), Hunt.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Richards, Atkins, Venus; J Smith, Corica, Osborn, Thompson, Froggatt; Roberts, Bull. Substitutes not used: Ferguson, Wright, Segers (gk).
Referee: M Pierce (Portsmouth).
Bookings: West Brom: Sneekes. Wolverhampton: Stowell.
Man of the match: Roberts.
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