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16:53 23rd October 2010

Albion 2 Fulham 1

GOALS from Youssouf Mulumbu and Marc-Antoine Fortune fired Albion to a thoroughly-deserved victory - and propelled them to the heady heights of fourth place. The Baggies' unwanted habit of conceding first continued as Hawthorns old boy Zoltan Gera saw his ninth-minute shot smash a post and bounce in off the luckless Scott Carson. But as so often has happened this season, Roberto Di Matteo's side did not panic and they were level just eight minutes later when Mulumbu swept home his first-ever Barclays Premier League goal. The hosts gradually seized control of the game and Fortune polished off a fine Baggies break five minutes before the interval to sentence the Cottagers to their first away defeat of the term. Albion's fourth victory of the season - stretching their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions - came on the back of yet another accomplished display and cheered the club's biggest gate of the season. Di Matteo rang one change as Jerome Thomas returned to the starting line-up after coming on as a substitute at Old Trafford last weekend on his comeback from a calf injury. Somen Tchoyi dropped to the bench. It was something of an old boys' reunion in the visitors' XI as ex-Baggies players Jonathan Greening, Gera and Diomansy Kamara started together for Fulham for the first time. Greening and Gera, in particular, were granted heroes welcomes by the sell-out home crowd - but Kamara less so! Albion started on the front foot but Chris Brunt's grass-cutter, from a 30-yard free-kick, was easily gathered by Mark Schwarzer at his near post. Then, in the fifth minute, Jonas Olsson was unable to keep his eight-yard header down from Brunt's corner. Fulham's first moment of note came less than 60 seconds later when Clint Dempsey was allowed to get a shot away from distance, but it dribbled wide. However, Fulham took the lead from their next foray in the ninth minute - thanks to a huge slice of luck. Carson did brilliantly to push Gera's 30-yard rocket onto his right-hand post, only for the ball to ricochet into the keeper's back and over the goalline. To his great credit, the Hungary star refused to celebrate out of respect for his former club. The chance had culminated from a misplaced Mulumbu pass and another wayward ball, this time from Gonzalo Jara, handed the Cottagers another chance. Kamara charged forward and clipped the outside of the post from the edge of the box, with Carson beaten. Albion regrouped and Brunt did well to skip past Greening before unleashing a 30-yarder which flew straight at Schwarzer. When the hosts had possession, Fulham got men back and formed what looked like an impenetrable khaki green wall - but Di Matteo's troops remained patient and levelled on 17. Two slide-rule balls from Gabriel Tamas and Brunt scythed open the West Londoners and DR Congo international Mulumbu coolly slotted past Schwarzer from eight yards. After the early flurry of activity, the game suffered a real lull, with neither side able to stamp their authority on proceedings. But the Baggies came mightily close to snatching the lead on 37. Olsson towered at the back stick to head James Morrison's corner towards the far top corner and the Swede would have been celebrating his second goal of the season had Stephen Kelly not been perfectly positioned to head it off the line. But the hosts turned the game on its head by snatching the lead three minutes later. Jara's raking ball forward sparked a swift counter-attack which saw Brunt slip Thomas through. The winger pulled the ball back for Fortune who calmly side-footed past Schwarzer from eight yards - his first goal since returning on a permanent basis from Celtic in August. The Baggies went close again on the stroke of half-time when the lively Paul Scharner headed into the side-netting from Brunt's short-corner. Albion were in complete control as the half drew to a close, with Thomas seeing a cross-cum-shot whistle inches past the far post. The Baggies picked up from where they left off after the break and Morrison wasn't too far away with an ambitious 30-yard drive. Di Matteo reshuffled the pack on 55, with Roman Bednar and Pablio Ibanez replacing Fortune and Olsson, who had both suffered knocks. Albion continued to ask all the questions and Bednar put the ball in the net just before the hour mark, only for his well-taken effort to rightly be ruled out for offside. The hosts went close again in the 65th minute when the unmarked Morrison just failed to control Brunt's deep cross, enabling Schwarzer to gather at the second attempt. Another flowing move culminated in Bednar teeing up Scharner and only a wonderful finger-tipped save by Schwarzer kept out the Austria international's vicious 15-yard shot. Albion deserved a third goal and Morrison almost grabbed it when Carson's long punt put him through, but the Scotland international saw his prod from an acute angle loop just wide. Despite their superiority, Albion were unable to get on the scoresheet again but it mattered not as they saw out the remainder of the game with little trouble. ALBION (4-2-3-1): Carson; Jara, Tamas, Olsson (Ibanez 55), Shorey; Mulumbu, Scharner; Brunt, Morrison, Thomas (Tchoyi 87); Fortune (Bednar 55). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Cox, S Reid, Dorrans. FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Salcido; Baird (Riise 73), Greening; Dembele, Gera, Dempsey; Kamara (A Johnson 58). Subs not used: Stockdale (gk), Pantsil, E Johnson, Dikgacoi, Halliche. GOALS: ALBION - Mulumbu (17), Fortune (40). FULHAM - Carson (own goal 9). REFEREE: K Friend (Leicestershire). BOOKINGS: None. ATTENDANCE: 25,625. ALBION STARMAN: Chris Brunt. PIC: YOU BEAUTY...Mulumbu makes it 1-1   To buy a DVD copy of this game for just £4.99, plus postage, click here.
    Data provided by Press Association


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