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21:45 24th March 2010

STEVEN Reid's first Albion goal was enough to seal the club's fifth successive win as The Hawthorns once again proved home sweet home for Roberto Di Matteo's troops.

The on-loan Blackburn full-back slid home the only goal of the game in the 22nd minute to make it seven home league successes on the spin for the Baggies.

Albion weren't at their best against a rejuvenated City side, who had lost only two of their previous 12 games.

The Baggies tired during the final 20 minutes and were subjected to concerted Sky Blues pressure, which culminated in sub Clinton Morrison hitting the post in the 95th minute.

But the hosts held on for vital three points to match their best sequence of league wins for six years.

Joe Mattock made his first league start in seven games, while fit-again Reid was also recalled, as Di Matteo rang two changes. They replaced the injured Marek Cech (groin) and benched Gianni Zuiverloon.

Chris Coleman made one change, with Freddy Eastwood coming in for Morrison, who dropped to the bench.

Albion were bidding to reopen an eight-point gap over third-placed Forest, whose win against Crystal Palace yesterday narrowed it to five, while 11th-placed Coventry were aiming to close the seven-point cushion between them and the final play-off berth.

The Baggies started on the front foot and, with less than two minutes on the clock, Graham Dorrans tried his luck from 25 yards, but his right-foot curler flew straight at Sky Blues keeper Keiren Westwood.

Moments later, Chris Brunt almost broke the deadlock in bizarre circumstances when, after holding off two City defenders, he saw his miscued cross loop over Westwood, brush the bar and fall to safety.

A more straight-forward chance went begging on 8 when Ben Watson failed to make proper headed contact, right in front of goal, with an exquisite Mattock centre.

Coventry recorded their first effort at goal in the tenth minute when Sammy Clingan curled a 25-yard free-kick two yards wide of Scott Carson's left-hand post.

City created a half-chance four minutes later when Eastwood headed the ball to the unmarked Gary Deegan on the edge of the box, but the Sky Blues midfielder miscued his volley well wide.

Coventry started to see plenty of the ball and, on 20, Jonathan Stead cut inside Reid before firing straight at Carson from 18 yards.

But Albion were soon back on the attack - and broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute.

Brunt whipped in a vicious corner, which just evaded Gabriel Tamas in the six-yard box, but Reid slid in at the far post to convert with a stunning half-volley.

After a lull in the goalmouth action, Albion suddenly sprang forward but Ishmael Miller could not capitalise on neat build-up play by Dorrans and Robert Koren, firing weakly at Westwood from 15 yards.

Coventry began to prod and probe for an equaliser but Albion remained disciplined and it was the hosts who threatened next in the 36th minute, only for Brunt to fire well wide from an acute angle.

Less than 60 seconds later, a Coventry move ended in disappointing fashion when David Bell dragged a weak shot wide from 25 yards.

Carson had to take evasive action in the 40th minute, rushing out of his area and heading firmly clear to prevent Stead getting on the end of a lofted through-ball. The rebound fell to Carl Baker but his ambitious 45-yard attempt to direct the ball into the empty net was way off target.

Koren thought he'd doubled Albion's lead in the 42nd minute when he connected with Dorrans' whipped-in free-kick at the back post.

However, despite the Slovenia skipper's protests, referee Colin Webster and his assistant ruled that Westwood had stopped the ball crossing the goalline.

TV replays suggested the officials got it wrong.

In the final minute of the half, Westwood was well positioned to dive to his right and hold onto Dorrans' 25-yard free-kick.

Albion started the second half confidently and Westwood had to pull off a fine reflex save on 50 to keep out Koren's deflected 25-yard rocket.

Miller was the next to try his luck from distance but saw his left-footed effort soar over.

Coventry threatened again just before the hour mark but Clingan's free-kick from an acute angle flew harmlessly into the side-netting.

The hosts had a huge let-off in the 63rd minute when Stead connected with Clingan's exquisite free-kick in the six-yard box - only for his volley to somehow miss the target.

The Baggies carved the City defence wide open on 65 when Koren exchanged a neat one-two with Watson before teeing up Miller.

The powerhouse striker spun his marker before seeing his 15-yard shot loop off James McPake and fly just wide of the far post.

Back came Coventry and Tamas had to make a vital clearance from underneath his own bar after Richard Wood had turned Baker's deep centre back across the face of goal.

There was another nervy Albion moment when Baker just failed to connect with Eatswood's pull-back and Watson cleared in the nick of time.

With Albion visibly tiring, Coventry kept pouring forward but Carson had little trouble smothering Baker's low drive from the edge of his box in the 87th minute.

The Baggies appeared to have snuffed out City's late rally until the 95th minute, when they had one, final escape.

Martin Cranie's huge throw-in was flicked goalwards and Morrison's stab was touched onto the post by Carson.

Referee Webster's final whistle seconds later was greeted with jubilation - not to mention relief - by Albion players and fans alike.

ALBION (4-5-1): Carson; S Reid, Meite, Tamas, Mattock; Koren (Thomas 85), Watson, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Brunt (Barnes 61); Miller (Moore 70). Subs not used: Kiely (gk), Cox, J Morrison, Zuiverloon.

COVENTRY (4-4-2): Westwood; Cranie, McPake, Wood, Wright (Hussey 80); Bell (Sears 66), Clingan, Baker, Deegan; Stead (C Morrison 76), Eastwood. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos (gk), Hall, Gunnarsson, Barnett.

GOALS: ALBION - Reid (22).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Barnes (foul 90+4). COVENTRY - McPake (foul 44), Wood (foul 48).

REFEREE: C Webster (Tyne & Wear).



    Data provided by Press Association


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