CAPTAIN Neil Clement ended Albion's run of four successive opening day
defeats with a point-earning strike as the Baggies got off the mark at the
Manager Gary Megson sprung a surprise by handing former Chelsea star Clement
both a central midfield berth and the skipper's armband at Ewood Park.
But he rose to the challenge by firing Albion into a 34th-minute lead with a
deflected free-kick - his first goal since February.
However, the Baggies were denied their first opening day win for seven years
when Craig Short headed Rovers level in the 70th minute.
Megson granted new boys Kanu, Jonathan Greening, Darren Purse and Riccardo
Scimeca their Albion debuts in this Premiership opener, while Zoltan Gera
and Tomasz Kuszczak started on the bench.
But there was no room in Megson's squad for record signing Martin
Albrechtsen and transfer-listed Sean Gregan.
Around 4,500 Baggies fans made the journey up to Lancashire and chants of
'West Brom are back' could be heard loud and clear as Albion kicked off
their second top flight campaign in three seasons.
The visitors started brightly and a slick left-wing move yielded a corner
after just 44 seconds, but Greening wasted the opportunity by failing to get
enough height on his flag-kick.
There was plenty of attacking endeavour during the opening stages but very
few chances created.
Yet Kanu still caught the eye with several silky touches.
The Nigerian international created the first real moment of danger when he
bamboozled Brett Emerton down the left before whipping in a left-foot cross
which flew agonisingly behind the unmarked Andy Johnson.
Blackburn didn't really trouble the Albion goal until the 20th minute when
debutant Javier De Pedro found Vratislav Gresko in acres of space in the
The Slovakian international's instant low cross would have set up a simple
chance for Jonathan Stead had Thomas Gaardsoe's knee not intervened and the
danger was cleared.
Rovers threatened again when Dwight Yorke flashed a header across the face
of goal from De Pedro's centre, moments before Stead fired high and wide
from the edge of the box - but Russell Hoult remained untroubled.
Albion had looked anything but out of place back on the big stage and soon
carved out a couple of half chances themselves.
After Rovers failed to clear a Greening corner, Purse volleyed the loose
ball goalwards, only to see his effort cannon off the grounded Barry
Ferguson and, after a frantic scramble, the danger was cleared.
A crunching Gaardsoe tackle then created another opening. Kanu,
inspirational throughout, slid the ball back to the Danish international who
wasn't too far away with a 25-yard drive.
Albion added the perfect finish to their purple patch by snatching a
After Blackburn new boy Dominic Matteo had upended Geoff Horsfield 30 yards
out, Clement let fly from the resulting free-kick which cannoned off
Ferguson in the Rovers wall and past the helpless Brad Friedel.
Matteo immediately tried to make amends at the other end with an 18-yard
snapshot which Hoult was relieved to see fly above his bar.
Ex-Villa star Yorke then sent a seven-yard header just over from Emerton's
But the half ended in controversy when Horsfield had what looked a perfectly
good goal disallowed for offside.
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness made two changes at half-time, bringing on
former Albion target Paul Dickov and Turkish international Tugay for De
Pedro and Gresko.
And it took a perfectly-timed last-ditch tackle from Purse on Yorke inside
the box to prevent the hosts grabbing an early equaliser after Rovers had
threatened to carve Albion open with a slick, one-touch move.
Yet Blackburn had a real let off moments later when Lorenzo Amoruso left
Friedel short with a woeful back pass. The American keeper slid in in the ni
ck of time to beat Kanu to the ball just outside his box and the danger was
Back came Rovers and after Yorke was again stopped in his tracks inside the
box, the ball broke nicely to Emerton whose scuffed shot clipped off an
Albion defender and crept just wide of the beaten Hoult's far post.
Former Leeds star Matteo collected the first booking of the game in the 65th
minute when he halted Kanu's run on goal by pulling his shirt after the
ex-Arsenal striker had left him for dead.
But Blackburn clawed themselves level with 20 minutes to go when centre-half
Short timed his late run to perfection to head Stead's left-wing cross past
Blackburn now had the bit between their teeth and Tugay lashed a first-time
drive just wide from 25 yards.
Moments later, bustling striker Horsfield was Albion's unlikely hero at the
back when he prevented the clean-through Emerton troubling Hoult with a
sliding tackle inside the box.
Yet the Baggies almost regained the lead in the 75th-minute when Kanu's
trickery again carved Rovers open.
The twinkle-toed striker brilliantly found Paul Robinson inside the box and
the former Watford full-back dragged the ball back inside onto his weaker
right foot before firing straight at Friedel's legs from ten yards.
Blackburn looked to force the issue in the final stages but the Baggies
headed back to West Bromwich with a fully deserved point - the first opening
day haul they've ever achieved under Megson.
BLACKBURN (4-4-2): Friedel; Emerton (Gallagher 84), Amoruso, Short, Gray;
Ferguson, Matteo, Gresko (Tugay HT), De Pedro (Dickov HT); Yorke, Stead.
Subs not used: Enckelman (gk), Johansson.
ALBION (4-4-2): Hoult; Scimeca, Purse, Gaardsoe, Robinson; Haas, Johnson
(Gera 87), Clement (Moore 76), Greening; Horsfield (Dobie 76), Kanu. Subs
not used: Kuszczak (gk), O'Connor.
GOALS: BLACKBURN - Short (70). ALBION - Clement (34).
BOOKINGS: BLACKBURN - Matteo (foul, 65)
REFEREE: C Foy (Lancashire).
ALBION STARMAN: Kanu.