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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old November 12th, 2004, 16:46 Thread Starter
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EPL 14/11/2004 West Brom v Boro

Bryan Robsons first game in charge of the team he did so well for.

Big Nige as his assistant.

Robbo playing against his old club.

It has all the makings of a good game. 0-0!

I think it will be a draw 1-1.

I hope we see a different midfield combo other than Clement and AJ, with Wallwork doing so well for Robson at Bradford I wonder if he may put him in there, but he probably hasn't had many games, so maybe see him on the bench. Also Artim I hope will see time at the weekend after so long on the sidelines.

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old November 12th, 2004, 16:48 Thread Starter
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I hope to see something adventurous like

Code:
        Kanu  Earnshaw
Greening Clement Gera Koumas
Robinson Purse Gaardsoe Contra
            Hoult

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old November 13th, 2004, 00:40 Thread Starter
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West Brom v Middlesbrough (Sun)
The Hawthorns
Sunday, 14 November
Kick-off: 1400 GMT

New West Brom boss Bryan Robson is set to name an unchanged side for
his first game in charge against his former club.

Robson has no injury problems to contend with and is poised to
retain the team that started at Southampton.

Middlesbrough are expected to recall experienced players such as
Mark Schwarzer, Jimmy Hasselbaink and Ray Parlour after resting them
in midweek.

The visitors will be attempting to take their unbeaten run in the
Premiership to six games at The Hawthorns.

West Brom (from): Hoult, Kusczak, Haas, Scimeca, Purse, Gaardsoe,
Moore, Albrechtsen, Robinson, Koumas, Gera, Johnson, Greening,
Sakiri, Kanu, Earnshaw, Horsfield.

Middlesbrough (from): Schwarzer, McMahon, Riggott, Southgate,
Queudrue, Parlour, Zenden, Boateng, Downing, Hasselbaink, Viduka,
Doriva, Morrison, Cooper.

BIG-MATCH FACTS


WEST BROMWICH ALBION against Middlesbrough sees Albion's newly
appointed manager Bryan Robson immediately going head-to-head with
his former club. The ex-England skipper began his professional
playing career at the Hawthorns, making 194 League appearances and
scoring 39 goals between 1974 and 1981. He went to Ayresome Park as
manager of Middlesbrough in 1994 and won the Nationwide First
Division Championship in his first season. Under him, the Teessiders
spent five seasons in the top flight, being promoted twice and
relegated twice and were involved in three Cup Finals (one FA Cup,
two League Cup) - all of which were lost.

Albion could be back in the relegation zone by the time this game
kicks off. They're hunting a first win in five Premiership matches,
and go into the early Sunday afternoon fixture on the back of last
weekend's eventful 2-2 draw at Southampton, when they came from
behind and then let their lead slip.

The Baggies hold a 100% home Premiership record over Middlesbrough
(one win out of one). That match was staged on 30 November 2002
when 'Boro fielded their usual tight defence, but Albion deservedly
won when sub Danny Dichio latched onto a loose ball 20 minutes from
time. The Midlanders are aiming to complete a hat trick of home
League victories over the Teesside club.

MIDDLESBROUGH go into this game after disappointment in the Carling
Cup midweek. Liverpool knocked out the holders 2-0 at Anfield. But
in the Premiership, they go into the weekend handily placed ten
points off the pace, but also ten points superior to their
opponents.

Steve MacLaren's side are on a five match unbeaten run in the top
division, having claimed nine points from a possible 15 since defeat
by Chelsea in late September. They're also chasing a third
successive League maximum on the road.

The Smoggies' last top flight maximum at the Hawthorns was 2-3 on 29
September 1951.

Referee:

Mike Dean (Wirral)
Mike Dean holds the fourth highest cards-to-games ratio in the
Premiership, having brandished three reds and 19 yellows in six
games (3.67 cards per game). Three of those red cards were issued
during West Brom's 1-1 draw with Fulham at the Hawthorns on 18
September when one player from the home side got his marching
orders - Neil Clement for a professional foul.

SEQUENCES/RECENT FORM

WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Going into the weekend: 17th 9 points

Not won in four matches - all Premiership.
Drawn two and lost two since beating Bolton 2-1 at home on 2
October.
Conceded a total of nine goals in their last three matches.
Won only one League game this season.
One of three clubs to have picked up only one victory in the highest
League, prior to this weekend's fixtures.
Recorded only one win in 15 League games (Premiership and old
Division One).
Drawn half of their League games this season (six of 12)
Looking for only an eighth win in 51 Premiership games.
Picked up 35 Premiership points from 50 games.
Managed just one clean sheet in 12 League outings this term.
Recorded one block-out in 15 League games, and just one in 27
Premiership contests.
One of three clubs with just one clean sheet in the highest echelon
so far in this campaign, ahead of this batch of games.
Failed to score in three top division matches this season.
One point inferior to this identical stage in their first and only
previous Premiership campaign, the season before last. Then they
picked up 10 points after the first 12 games, and 11 after 13.
Fallen behind from the opening whistle eight times in the top tier
this term.
At their most vulnerable in the middle quarter hour of the second
half of Premiership games. Five of their 22 Premiership goals
conceded have been shipped in that 15 minute segment.

Seeking a fifth home victory in their Premiership history.
Won only one home Premiership match this season (v Bolton).
One of three clubs, in advance of this latest round of matches, to
have drawn as many as four home Premiership games.
Scored only six goals in six League outings at the Hawthorns.
Kept just one clean sheet in home Premiership matches this season.
Middlesbrough are the only club to have conceded in all their home
League matches.
Failed to score just once in a home League game. Only Arsenal and
Bolton have scored in all their home games in the top division.

MIDDLESBROUGH
Going into the weekend: 5th 19 points

Won two and drawn three of the last five League matches, since
losing 0-1, at home to Chelsea on 25 September.
Third highest scorers in the Premiership with 20 goals, going into
this round of matches. Arsenal have 32 and Newcastle 23.
Involved in the highest scoring top flight match of the season so
far - Arsenal's 5-3 home win on 22 August.
Gone 10 matches since conceding more than a single goal in a
Premiership fixture (that was at Highbury).
Come from behind in Premiership matches six times. No club can match
that ahead of the weekend.
Conceded one goal in each of the last three, and in eight of the
last nine Premiership matches.
Yet to score in the first 15 minutes of a Premiership game.
Kept just two clean sheets, and failed to score in two top tier
matches.
Opposition scored first in seven top flight games.
The next match lost in the Premiership will be Middlesbrough's 900th
post war League defeat.
Seven goals short of conceding 500 in their Premier League history.

Won the last two League games away from the Riverside at Blackburn
and Charlton.
Scored a total of six goals in those two matches.
Won three times away from home in the top division. Only Arsenal,
Chelsea and Everton have won more going into the weekend (four
each).
Drawn only once in a League game on the road.
Second highest Premiership scorers on the road. Netted 12 goals, as
opposed to Arsenal's 13 away from Highbury.
Failed to score only once on their top League travels. Only
Newcastle have netted in every away game.

KEY PLAYER NOTES/POTENTIAL MILESTONES

WEST BROMWICH ALBION
If he plays, Darren MOORE will be making his 100th appearance for
West Brom.
If involved, Bernt HAAS will be making his 50th appearance for the
Baggies.
If selected, Rob HULSE will be making his 150th career League
appearance.

MIDDLESBROUGH
Ugo EHIOGU began his professional career with West Brom.
If selected in the 11, EHIOGU will be making his 100th Premiership
start for 'Boro.
Should he be involved, Carlo NASH, will be making his 150th career
League appearance.
If he runs out, Stuart PARNABY will be making his 50th career League
appearance, and if on the field at kick off, PARNABY will be making
his 50th career club start.
If he lines up at kick off, Gareth SOUTHGATE will be making his
450th career League start.

HEAD TO HEAD TOTALS
League: WBA 27 wins, Middlesbrough 33, Draws 18
Prem: WBA 1 win, Middlesbrough 1, Draws 0


HEAD TO HEAD at WBA
League: WBA 22 wins, Middlesbrough 8, Draws 9
Prem: WBA 1 win, Middlesbrough 0, Draws 0

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old November 13th, 2004, 00:40 Thread Starter
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Robson's Boro plans coming together

Robson: "I've been really pleased with the attitude of the players
and the way they've gone about things in the last two days."
By Oliver Bhurrut

BRYAN Robson has revealed he already has an idea of his starting XI
to face Middlesbrough on Sunday (ko 2pm) and insisted he has been
impressed with the players' response to his arrival.

The new Baggies boss held training for the first time yesterday
(Thursday) and is delighted to have no fresh injury worries ahead of
his first game in the Hawthorns hotseat against his former club.

But he realises his 17th-placed men face a stern test against a Boro
side who are unbeaten in their last five Premiership encounters and
beat Blackburn and Charlton in their previous two league games on
the road.

"I've been really pleased with the attitude of the players and the
way they've gone about things in the last two days," said Robson.

"It's good to have a fully fit squad available apart from the long-
term injured.

"I've got a reasonable idea of the team and the way I want to play
against Middlesbrough.

"Fortunately, I have seen quite a bit of Boro this season and
especially over the past few weeks.

"They're a good team, full of confidence.

"Steve McClaren has got them playing good attractive football but
that gives us a chance to get at them.

"We're at home and we've got to try and excite our fans with
positive football which is what we'll try and aim for.

"But the first thing I'm looking for is to get good results - that's
the priority.

"Whether that's through defensive, counter-attacking or high-
pressure football only time will tell when I've assessed the squad
and seen what gets us results."

Robson added: "The type of players in your squad dictates the way
you can play.

"At this moment in time my main aim is to get the best out of the
squad I've got and get results."

The Albion chief spent six-and-a-half seasons at the Riverside
Stadium, winning promotion to the Premiership twice.

But Sunday will see him in a top-flight dugout for the first time
since December 2000 and he admitted he will have butterflies as he
hopes to emulate the success he had as player at The Hawthorns 23
years ago.

"I don't think since I was 17 and made my debut with West Brom that
I haven't been nervous before a game," he added.

"It's even worse when you're a manager because when you kick off as
a player you lose all nerves and you concentrate on the game.

"When you're a manager the nerves don't go quite as easily.

"But for me it's about enjoying being back in the Premiership, the
challenge and getting the best out of my players.

"It's like riding a bike - you're a little bit wary when you fall
off but once you get back on it starts running smoothly again.

"This week has been very hectic but the main thing I'm focusing on
is making sure the players are 100 per cent ready for Sunday's game."

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Boss lays down gauntlet

By Oliver Bhurrut

BRYAN Robson has laid down the gauntlet of Premiership football to
the international stars on the fringes of his Baggies side.

The new Albion boss has opened the door to his entire 31-man squad
after meeting with them for the first time on Tuesday.

"I've had a word with the squad as a group and said we haven't got
the best out of them so far," said Robson.

"There are internationals who haven't been involved. Is that because
of coaching and fitness aspects or their own mental approach to
things?

"I've told them what I expect from them.

"They've got to show me that they have a desire to play in the
Premiership and that they're good enough to play and be part of the
team. I want that from every single one of the squad.

"I need to see that because I've seen players at this club play in
internationals and perform at a really high level and yet they can't
get in the team.

"So I've put it on their toes really. It's up to them what they want
as individuals and how determined they are to play in the
Premiership.

"And it's mine and Nigel Pearson's job to get the best out of them.

"At this time, it's about pulling together and proving what they're
worth."

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2004, 12:03 Thread Starter
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%26method=full%26siteid=50002%26headline=the%2dtal king%2dstops%2d%2d%
2d%2d%2dnow%2dfor%2daction-name_page.html

The talking stops - now for action
Nov 13 2004
By Brian Dick, Birmingham Post

West Bromwich Albion v Middlesbrough

The midweek fanfare had died down, backs had been slapped,
pleasantries exchanged and Bryan Robson finally got down to business.

Yesterday, three days into the job, the new West Bromwich Albion
manager fielded the opening question of his first pre-match press
conference.

"Any team news Bryan?" and we were off and running. The King is
dead, long live the King.

He then spent as earnest a 15 minutes as can ever have been
witnessed detailing how a new manager goes about turning the Titanic.

Captain Marvel chose to start with a message to his crew. He
recalled how on Day One, as Big Brother would term it, he gathered
his men together and offered an amnesty for past sins.

What had gone before, under his predecessor Gary Megson, no longer
counted he told them.

"I know that Gary's management style was to push a few players to
the side because they had fallen out or they weren't seeing eye-
toeye," he said.

"But for me, at this moment of time, it is about everyone coming
together and proving what they are worth."

That must have filled the hearts of Messrs Wallwork, Marshall and
Hulse with great cheer for it was they who bore the brunt of
Megson's philosophy and virtually disappeared from professional
football in recent months.

However Robson, as inclusive as his attitude is, stressed that he
would not allow himself to be seen as a soft touch. The onus, he
said, was firmly on such players and he told them so.

"I said to all the players that we hadn't got the best out of them
so far as a club," he continued. "There are internationals who
haven't been involved. I asked them if that is because of coaching
aspects, fitness aspects or their own mental approach.

"They have got to show me that they have a desire to play in the
Premiership and that they are good enough to

and be part of this team.

"I need to see that from them because I seen players at this club
play at international level and perform very well at that really
high level but yet they can't get in the team at the moment."

He asked his players to demonstrate their determination to succeed
in the English top-flight. "It's time for people to stop talking a
good game and show me one.

"You get too many people who actually do that in football. They talk
a good game but when they actually get out there where it matters
they don't perform." That broadside would have sent

shivers down several highly paid spines.

So that's the troops rallied, what about the strategy? Under Megson
Albion developed a reputation for successful, yet dour, attritional
football which won them a few plaudits but few admirers.

Robson on the other hand comes with a reputation of favouring
continental flair and while not quite a member of the Kevin Keegan
We'll Score More Than You school of thought, his Middlesbrough went
forward first.

The 47-year-old said it was not the time for fantasy football. His
team might even be dour and attritional but above all they had to be
successful.

"In the initial period the first priority is to get good results,"
he said. "Whether that is through playing defensive football,
counterattacking football or real high-pressure football only time
will tell.

"I have to assess the squad and see what fits them and what gets
results. You are dictated to by the type of players you have in the
squad and what type of football they can play."

His new reign starts, as they always seem to, against his old
employers as the men from the Riverside call in tomorrow.

Latterly Albion have sprung a few defensive leaks, they have
conceded nine goals in the last three games two of which have been
against Crystal Palace and Southampton, and only Arsenal have scored
more on their travels than Middlesbrough.

That is a worrying statistic for Robson, who admits to admiring what
Steve McClaren has achieved with his old club.

"They are a good team, full of confidence and Steve McCLaren has got
them playing good attractive football. But that also gives you a
chance of getting at them. We have got to try and excite our fans
with positive football."

Pearson casts sentiment aside

Nigel Person's route to The Hawthorns has seen many twists. Ged
Scott reports

If anyone at The Hawthorns is expecting West Bromwich Albion to be
involved in a relegation dogfight next May, at least they can feel
comforted to know that they're in the safest of hands.

It is five-and-a-half years now since the Baggies' new No 2 Nigel
Pearson, in his first job in football management, steered lowly
Carlisle United to one of the greatest final-day escapes in history.

It was Carlisle's goalkeeper, the celebrated Jimmy Glass, who got
all the headlines by heading hopefully upfield for a late corner and
scoring the injury time winner that kept the Cumbrians in the
Football League. But who was the Carlisle manager who sent him up
for that fateful corner? None other than Pearson.

Just the mention of that name brings back a warm reflective smile,
as if he's just stepped into the middle of a Bisto advert. "Aah,"
murmurs Pearson, "Jimmy Glass!"

The whole experience is still liable to bring the 41-year-old East
Midlander out in a muck sweat every time he even thinks about it.
But, just like his team that day, he survived.

"I don't care what level you're at or whoever you are in football,
the expectations and pressures are the same," said Pearson. "You've
got to be able to cope.

"I joined Carlisle the day before Christmas and it was like a crash
course in football management.

"I learnt more in five months than I might have done at a top club
in ten years.

"I came from a high profile club at Middlesbrough to go and work
with hard working, honest toilers. And it was like a breath of fresh
air.

"How you deal with it can be the making of you and I would not swap
that experience for anything."

Having had just three clubs in an exemplary 18-year playing career -
Shrewsbury Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Boro - as an uncompromising
centre half who knew where the back of the net was at set pieces,
Pearson's path into management has been slightly more intricate.

Almost six years since leaving the Riverside, his decision to link
up again at Albion with his old Boro boss Bryan Robson at The
Hawthorns is his fourth job in that time.

The second of those jobs, at Stoke City, was under Robson's Albion
predecessor Gary Megson.

"I've known Gary a long time," he said. "From our days together at
Sheffield Wednesday.

"I've a lot of respect for him. It's never easy when

people lose their jobs, but his record speaks for itself and I'll
contact him soon, when the time's right.

"He brought me in to help him at Stoke the summer I left Carlisle.
And we were together for the next three months before a new
Icelandic consortium came in and wanted Gudjon Thordarson, so Gary
left.

"I had another two years, and I've been at the FA for the past two-
and-a-half years, coaching the England Under-20s.

"It's been a varied route, but I've no regrets about anything I've
done. Sometimes it's how you come out of different experiences that
counts for most."

Now Pearson is faced with the task of bringing together all his
wealth of footballing knowledge to try and help Robson keep the
Baggies in the Premiership. And he is not the only one baffled as to
why it has taken three-and-a-half years for Robbo to be given
another chance of managing a team in the top flight - given his
record on Teesside.

Pearson twice skippered Robson's Boro to promotion. And, although
there was a relegation suffered in the middle, the former Boro
captain sees that as a mere blemish in an overall facelift.

"Let's face it," says Pearson, "when Bryan arrived, Boro were what
you might call a middle of the road club, not very high profile.

"But, with the help of Steve

Gibson's money, people's perception of us as a small town club was
forced to change. With Bryan Robson there, a change of image and a
new ground, all of a sudden, the club could attract big name foreign
players.

Now Pearson is no longer on the end of Robson's team talks, but back
in the dressing room, imparting advice of his own.

"This week's been a bit of a blur, to be honest," he said. "We've
only been at the club a few days and trained with the lads for the
first time on Thursday.

"The players' application is crucial. But, so far, we're delighted
with their response."

Boro's visit is nothing, Pearson insists, to get too misty eyed
about.

"We had good years there," he said. "But we can't afford to go down
the sentimental road.

"We are at West Brom, we want to get the right result for West Brom
and we're up for the task."

But, as one mischievous Albion fan reminded him even on his first
day, Pearson has already made people happy at The Hawthorns once
before.

"It was in my days at Shrewsbury," he said. "We'd actually won there
the previous season, but I stuck one in my own net from about 40
yards, and it was the winner too.

"This Albion fan didn't waste any time reminding me of it."

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2004, 13:13 Thread Starter
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Contra is playing in midfield for us today.
Still no Sakiri in the 16???

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2004, 14:53
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good half from West Brom, its 1-1.

Purse with an own goal, but its pretty much all been West Brom who got a deserved equaliser from Earnshaw after some good work and cut back down the right from Contra.

Hopefully they can go on and win it in the second half :thmbup:
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2004, 15:23
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Finally Contra is playing. And he gives an assist. Just like last time he played.

I hope you guys win today, good luck.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2004, 17:17 Thread Starter
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Code:
WBA                    M'boro

Goal Attempts 10  :  9 Goal Attempts 
 
On Target 4  :  6 On Target 
 
Crosses 7  :  8 Crosses 
 
Corners 6  :  9 Corners 
 
Offside 1  :  1 Offside 
 
Fouls 6  :  5 Fouls 
 
Free kicks 6  :  7 Free kicks 
  
 
% Possession 57  :  43 Possession %


Full Time

Code:
HOME                    AWAY
Goal Attempts 16  :  11 Goal Attempts 
 
On Target 6  :  7 On Target 
 
Crosses 12  :  17 Crosses 
 
Corners 7  :  10 Corners 
 
Offside 4  :  1 Offside 
 
Fouls 12  :  14 Fouls 
 
Free kicks 16  :  16 Free kicks 
 
 % Possession 51  :  49 Possession %

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2004, 17:18 Thread Starter
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If you wanted to stop us from creating and being inventive and a threat to Middlesbrough in the second half, then its obvious you
take off Gera and Earnie.
Then to replace these two with Hulse and Hors! Well, I was astounded.

It completely changed the side and I never thought we were going to score.

Contra, I thought, played very well for a player lacking so much first team experience. When he got into the box he turned the Boro defenders inside out, definitely a positive to take from the game.

I think we'll have to give that to Robson as he doesn't know the players as well as we do. I imagine Peace wants an answer shortly
about Dindane. Hors & Hulse ... Hmmm thanks for the work and input to the Albion but you aren't Prem strikers, Aruna please enter
stage right.

Kanu MUST hold his hands up and accept a GREAT deal of blame for us not getting a point, I am completely dumbfounded as to how on
earth he could miss from there. I didn't think it was humanly possible, but alas the big man proved us wrong sadly.
Dare I say, even AJ would have scored that!

Greening had another impressive display, and as hard as Johnson tried just couldn't seem to cut it for me in midfield. Clem played
well going forward but at the back we were caught out far too many times, not just by him, but all over.

As we have said before we are CRYING out for a DM to be played in there to steady the ship, that has to be our top priority in Jan.

Interesting that we never brought on the third sub, I would have brought on Koumas with 10 mins to go.

Zenden's goal wasn't going to be stopped by Hoult, he just couldn't have headed it any better if he'd tried. And Purse's own goal
was just bad luck.

But we need to stop the opposition from creating so many chances then we wont score own goals like that. Very pleasing to see first
half just how many chances we did create.

Hoult 6
Scimeca 6
Clement 7
Moore 7
Purse 6
Johnson 6
Greening 8
Gera 7
Contra 7
Kanu 6
Earnshaw 7

subs
Hulse 3
Horsfield 4

Ref: 8

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WBA vs Middlesbrough
1 - 2
Date:
14/11/2004 Venue:
The Hawthorns
Attendance:
24008

Match Report

BRYAN Robson's Hawthorns reign got off to a losing start after Bolo
Zenden's second-half strike earned Champions League-chasing
Middlesbrough a third successive away win.

But it would - and should - have been a different story had Baggies
captain Kanu not missed an open goal in the dying seconds to deny
his new manager his first point.

Robert Earnshaw's first Hawthorns goal - and third in two games -
cancelled out a Darren Purse own goal during a thrilling first half
in which Albion played with a new-found freedom.

The second period was a big disappointment in comparison as both
sides struggled to create openings and Zenden's 52nd-minute header
proved decisive, sentencing Albion to a second successive home
defeat.

Former playing legend Robson received a rapturous welcome from the
Hawthorns hordes when he was presented to the crowd shortly before
kick off.

And Zoltan Gera had a presentable chance to get Robson's tenure off
to a perfect start in the seventh minute.

Riccardo's Scimeca's low cross was neatly diverted into the path of
Gera by Andy Johnson, but the Hungary skipper blazed the bouncing
ball well over from 15 yards.

The former Ferencvaros favourite was at it again seconds later,
skipping past George Boateng 30 yards out before lashing a right-
footed drive just wide of Mark Schwarzer's right-hand post.

But Albion had a real let off in the tenth minute when Boro
exploited acres of space down the hosts' right flank.

Stewart Downing exchanged a clever one-two with Franck Queudrue
before side-footing an excellent chance wide from 15 yards.

The game's first major talking point arrived in the 16th minute
when, from a Baggies corner, Earnshaw appeared to be felled in the
box by Mark Viduka, but referee Steve Bennett waved Albion's
protests away.

The game had now burst into life and Russell Hoult had to be on his
toes to tip over a 30-yard missile from Zenden.

Back came Albion and only a brave near post save from Schwarzer
denied Kanu after the Nigerian international had tricked his way
past Boro right back Tony McMahon.

Cosmin Contra then spurned the game's best chance to date when the
ball broke kindly to him inside the box.

The Premiership debutant skipped past one challenge, only to fire
straight at Schwarzer from 12 yards, enabling the Boro keeper to
palm the ball to safety.

It was one-loud-penalty-appeal-all in the 22nd minute when Bennett
this time waved away Boro's protests after Scimcea appeared to foul
Viduka from behind.

And Hasselbaink was desperately unlucky not to fire the Teessiders
in front moments later when he crashed a bullet header from
Downing's corner off the bar.

Chances continued to come thick and fast at both ends with Gera,
twice, and Johnson going close for Albion, while Hoult was grateful
to team-mate Purse for clearing Albion's lines after the Baggies
No.1 had spilled Downing's fierce drive.

Albion were getting closer and closer and Schwarzer had to pull off
a marvellous save to keep out Scimeca's ferocious long-range effort.

But disaster struck in the 31st minute when Steve McClaren's men
snatched the lead.

Hasselbaink's low cross looked destined for Hoult's outstretched
arms - until Purse stuck out a leg and diverted the ball into his
own net.

But Robson's men regrouped and went straight back on the offensive.

Schwarzer's hands were stinging again when Earnshaw let fly first
time from 25 yards after being teed up by the impressive Contra.

And Albion finally got the goal their pressure had warranted in the
37th minute.

Romanian international Contra was again the architect, turning
Queudrue inside out just inside the box before pulling the ball back
for Earnshaw who neatly tucked the ball home from seven yards.

The equaliser meant Albion went into the break with their tails up -
but they were behind again just seven minutes into the second half.

Downing centred from the left and the unmarked Zenden ghosted in at
the near post to guide a perfectly-weighted header over Hoult and
inside the far post.

Robson reacted by replacing scorer Earnshaw and Gera on the hour
mark with strike duo Geoff Horsfield and Rob Hulse - the ex-Crewe
striker's first taste of the Premiership.

But despite enjoying plenty of possession, Albion struggled to
puncture Boro's stubborn rearguard action.

And the visitors almost snatched a third in the 71st minute when a
Boro breakaway resulted in Viduka firing just over from Ray
Parlour's low cross.

It wasn't until 11 minutes from time that the Baggies created their
next opening, with Hulse coming within a whisker of sliding home
Horsfield's low cross which flashed across the face of the Boro goal.

Albion turned the screw in the dying minutes and Schwarzer had to be
at his best to keep out both Hulse and Neil Clement.

All hope was lost in stoppage time when Kanu somehow flicked the
ball over from close range after Horsfield had got to the by-line
and fired it across the six-yard box.

ALBION (4-4-2): Hoult; Scimeca, Moore, Purse, Clement; Contra,
Johnson, Greening, Gera (Horsfield 60); Earnshaw (Hulse 60), Kanu.
Subs not used: Kuszczak (gk), Koumas, Gaardsoe.

BORO (4-4-2): Schwarzer; McMahon, Riggott, Southgate, Queudrue;
Parlour, Zenden (Doriva 89), Boateng, Downing; Hasselbaink, Viduka.
Subs not used: Nash (gk), Cooper, Morrison, Job.

GOALS: ALBION - Earnshaw (37). BORO - Purse (31, own goal), Zenden
(52).

BOOKINGS: none.

REFEREE: S Dunn (Bristol).

ATTENDANCE: 24,008

ALBION STARMAN: Jonathan Greening.

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Robson left to ponder

By Oliver Bhurrut

BRYAN Robson insisted he had plenty to think about after seeing his
Albion reign begin with a 2-1 defeat against his former club
Middlesbrough.

Robert Earnshaw fired his third goal in two games to level the
scores within six minutes of Darren Purse's 31st-minute own goal.

But Albion were punished for a string of first-half misses when Bolo
Zenden headed Boro back in front seven minutes after the break.

"I won't be miserable tonight, I will be thoughtful," said Robson.

"I'll be looking at the game to assess what we did right and wrong.

"Then tomorrow (Monday), we'll get back to it with the players and
see what we can improve on.

"It's a very early period but there's a lot of work to be done. The
amount of work needed is about as I expected.

"My first initial thoughts are that we gave the ball away far too
cheaply at certain periods in the game. In the Premiership, you
can't afford to do that.

"The passing at certain times was good which is why we created lots
of chances.

"And it's pleasing that there were some good aspects even though we
lost.

"Some of the football we played in the first half meant we deserved
to go in in front but the thing I'll look at now is those first 15
minutes in the second half.

"That's where we've got to improve if we're to do well in this
division.

"In the first half, I was pleased with the football and the shape of
the team. We passed the ball well and got into some good positions.

"Mark Schwarzer made some good saves and we made some chances where
we could have done a little bit better.

"That was pleasing but in the second half we started far too slack
and for whatever reason we went far too deep and gave Boro too much
time on the ball to pass it around us.

"We found ourselves down and I felt it necessary to make the changes
with Rob Hulse and Geoff Horsfield coming on to give us more
presence up front to try and get Middlesbrough on the back foot."

Robson received a rousing reception from both sets of supporters
before kick-off and he admitted he enjoyed everything about his
return to Premiership football - except the result.

Kanu could - and should - have pinched a point in the dying seconds
but missed an open goal from inside the six-yard box.

But Robson was pleased with the play that led to the opening.

He insisted: "That was a very good move. Cosmin Contra got Geoff
Horsfield in behind Boro and it looked far easier for Kanu to put it
in the back of the net and impossible to put it over the bar.

"It would have been nice to have started an unbeaten run after last
weekend's draw but these things happen in football."

Robson added: "The Albion fans get behind whoever is working for the
club. As a coach or player, they get right behind you - they always
have done.

"It was also a nice reception from the Boro fans who travelled down."

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