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West Brom 3-1 Sheffield United

By Jemma Tappenden
January 30 2010

West Brom started the day off in 3rd place, knowing that not even a win could lift them back into the automatic promotion places. However, before this game had even kicked off 2nd placed Nottingham Forestís league unbeaten run was brought to an end by their East Midlands rivals Derby County, so three points for the Baggies today would leave them just two points off 2nd spot with a game in hand.

Albion were boosted by Graham Dorrans and Roman Bednar who passed late fitness tests and made the starting line up.  Roberto Di Matteo named an unchanged first XI for a fourth game, whilst Blades boss Kevin Blackwell made two changes to the starting line up which thrashed Reading 3-0 midweek.

From the outset the Baggies looked determined to put their recent league slump behind them and could have taken the lead in the opening minutes when Jonas Olsson connected with Dorrans’ corner.  In the 8th minute Jerome Thomas showed his class by breezing past three United players to try his luck from 12 yards.  But Blades keeper Morgan was on hand to provide a vital last ditch block to keep his side level.

After 10 minutes Sheffield United caught Albion napping at the back as a quick throw in allowed Cresswell to pace into the box and fire at Carson from a tight angle.  Carson blocked the shot but conceded the corner.

In the 18th minute West Brom finally made their early pressure pay off when they took the lead through a Graham Dorrans penalty.  A loose ball in the box struck the hand of Blades midfielder Nick Montgomery after he and Dorrans had come together to challenge for it.  It appeared to all that the hand ball was accidental – but the referee pointed to the spot immediately and Graham Dorrans made no mistake in tucking the ball away.

In the 24th minute a clear chance went begging as Thomas released Jara down the right, but his inch perfect cross to Bednar in the box was wasted as the striker failed to get his effort on target from 6 yards. 

In the 31st minute, just 60 seconds after James Harper tried an ambitious 30 yarder for United, Albion doubled their lead through Roman Bednar.  What started as a Blades free kick soon turned into a West Brom attack as Brunt cleared to Mulumbu, who switched to Bednar allowing him to release Thomas down the left.  Thomas found Bednar in the centre and the Cech striker struck the ball calmly into the far corner.

Four minutes before the break Albion should have made in 3-0, but Bednar could only find the side netting after Steven Quinn had played his side into trouble with a short back pass.  Albion were certainly enjoying the better of the spoils, and finished the half with a flurry of half chances.  Out of the two sides it was the Blades who were relieved to hear the half time whistle.

Half Time: West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Sheffield United

Sheffield United started the half exactly as Kevin Blackwell would have hoped – a goal within the opening minutes.  A clumsy clearance from Mulumbu in the box resulted in the tripping up of Quinn.  With no question this time on whether it was a deserved penalty or not, Henderson stepped up to convert the 48th minute spot kick, giving his side a chance at drawing level.

It was to be a short lived chance however, as just two minutes later the Baggies netted the third goal they had strived so hard for during the first half.  Baggies star man Graham Dorrans released Jerome Thomas who released a 15 yard effort which was deflected past keeper Bunn by United’s Morgan.

Far from letting their heads drop the Blades looked a different side to the one that played the first half, as they pressed Albion in search for their second goal.   But Albion were not without chances of their own, and Brunt was prevented from scoring an easy tap in goal after Bednar’s perfect centre ball in the 65th minute. 

A flurry of chances from both sides made up the last 20 minutes of the game, with neither side able to convert those chances into more goals.  The three points for Albion move them to within just two points of Nottingham Forest with a game in hand.

Full Time: West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Sheffield United

Dorrans 18 (pen), Bednar 31, Thomas 50.

Henderson 48

Attendance: 22,183

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