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19:15 22nd August 2009

YOUSSOUF Mulumbu and Robert Koren were at the 'centre' of Albion's fourth successive win.

DR Congo international Mulumbu opened the scoring with a terrific tenth-minute strike - his first Baggies goal - before midfield sidekick Koren made it 2-0 seven minutes before the break.

Ipswich certainly gave Roberto Di Matteo's men a run for their money but the scoreline would have been much more flattering had it not been for the excellent Richard Wright.

The Tractor Boys keeper pulled off a string of stunning saves - including a 75th-minute penalty stop to deny Luke Moore.

The deserved victory made it three league wins in a week and keeps Albion level on points with the Coca-Cola Championship pacesetters.

Koren was recalled to central midfield in place of the suspended Graham Dorrans in Di Matteo's only change as loan signing Shaun Cummings and new recruit Joe Mattock made their home debuts.

Roy Keane made four alterations, with Gareth McAuley, Tamas Priskin, Damien Delaney and Colin Healy making way for David Wright, Owen Garvan, Jon Stead and Tommy Smith.

Backed by a buoyant crowd, Albion started this live Sky game like a house on fire.

Richard Wright was called into evasive action with less than five minutes on the clock when he got down well to claw away Koren's free ten-yard header from Chris Brunt's centre.

Ipswich immediately recorded their first effort on goal, with Jon Walters sending a ferocious 25-yard drive a couple of yards over.

The hosts looked bright and inventive in possession and it was no surprise when they snatched a tenth-minute lead - although the name on the scoresheet raised a fee eyebrows!

Jonas Olsson was desperately unlucky not to grab his first of the season when his towering header from Brunt's corner was blocked on the line by David Wright.

While the majority of the Baggies players appealed that the ball had crossed the line, Mulumbu controlled Jon Stead's clearance 25 yards out and smashed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner, giving Wright no chance.

Olsson made a vital contribution at the other end just a minute later when he got in the way of Connor Wickham's goalbound header from Lee Martin's corner.

The Baggies were soon back on the attack and a flowing cross-field move involving Mattock, Marek Cech, Moore and Chris Wood set up a great chance for Brunt, who saw his 15-yard rocket blocked by Richard Wright.

The visitors created their first clear opening on 20 when Martin sent Wickham clear of the Baggies defence.

The Town striker got his shot away just inside the box before Cummings could block, but new club captain Scott Carson produced an assured save, diving low to his right to clutch the ball.

Three minutes later, Martin had a go himself but dragged his 25-yard effort harmlessly wide.

Ipswich were enjoying their best spell of the game thus far - but Albion nearly punished them with a 31st-minute sucker punch.

Koren won possession in the centre-circle before teeing up Moore, whose 20-yard drive was well blocked by Richard Wright.

The ball broke perfectly for Cech who, with the goal at his mercy, could only direct his header at the grounded keeper and the Tractor Boys cleared.

Ipswich grew in composure as the game crept on and a neat spell of keep-ball on the edge of the Baggies box created a half-chance for Walters, who shot weakly wide from 18 yards.

But it was Albion who possessed the killer instinct - and they doubled their lead on 38.

Moore did well to win back possession deep inside the Ipswich half and find Koren who, in turn, fed Wood on the edge of the box.

The New Zealand international brilliantly held off his marker and threaded in Koren who coolly rounded Richard Wright before slotting home.

Albion really had the bit between their teeth and another terrific move involving Koren and Moore resulted in Cech seeing a 20-yard curler superbly palmed away by Richard Wright at full stretch.

The Town keeper had already staked a firm claim for the man-of-the-match award when he pulled off another save out of the top draw, diving low to his left to push Wood's 20-yard volley around the post after Moore had laid off Shelton Martis' aerial ball.

That was the final action of a hugely impressive Albion half.

It took the Baggies just 38 seconds after the restart to threaten the Town goal again, with Moore curling just wide from 18 yards after Wood and Burnt had combined.

But the hosts owed a huge debt to Carson for keeping their two-goal cushion intact on 49.

The England keeper produced a stunning point-blank block to deny sub Alan Quinn from David Wright's centre and then bounced back onto his feet to push away Liam Trotter's follow-up.

Di Matteo was forced to make a change on 55 when Brunt limped off and was replaced by home debutant Jerome Thomas.

Moore was continuing to prove a real handful and it took another excellent Richard Wright reflex save to deny him from 15 yards after Wood had flicked the ball into his path.

Compared to the over-worked Richard Wright, counterpart Carson was enjoying a quiet afternoon but he too proved he was on his game when, in full flight, he pushed away Walters' 30-yard exocet.

Albion were still searching for that third killer goal but Richard Wright got in the way again on 66 when he denied Thomas at point-blank range after the winger had unlocked the visiting defence by exchanging a one-two with Wood.

Back came Town and Carson had to pull off a smart save to keep out Pim Balkenstein's towering back-post header from Quinn's free-kick.

From the ensuing corner, Balkenstein was unmarked again but powered his free header wide, with Carson beaten.

It really should have been all over on 75 when Albion were rightly awarded a penalty for Smith's trip on Cummings.

But Richard Wright had other ideas, blocking Moore's spot-kick with his outstretched left boot before skipper Alex Bruce raced back to head away the striker's goalbound mishit follow-up.

Albion were right on top now and the impressive Wood will have been disappointed he didn't notch with two quick-fire efforts from Thomas and sub Craig Beattie deliveries.

Thomas and Moore both went close during the dying stages but failed to give the scoreline the extra gloss the Baggies' convincing performance deserved.

ALBION (4-4-2): Carson; Cummings, Martis, Olsson, Mattock (Beattie 75); Brunt (Thomas 55), Koren (Valero 84), Mulumbu, Cech; Moore, Wood. Subs not used: Kiely (gk), Barnett, Cox, Reid.

IPSWICH (4-4-2): R Wright; D Wright, Bruce, Balkenstein, Smith; Walters, Garvan (Colback HT), Trotter, Martin; Stead (Quinn HT), Wickham (Priskin 71). Subs not used: Lee-Barrett (gk), Upson, McAuley, Counago.

GOALS: ALBION - Mulumbu (10), Koren (38).


REFEREE: S Tanner (Somerset).


ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.