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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:56 15th January 2011

Albion 3 Blackpool 2

TWO-GOAL Peter Odemwingie ended Albion's five-game losing streak in the Barclays Premier League with a dramatic late winner.

In an unforgettable encounter which produced chances galore at both ends, Ian Holloway's side snatched an 11th-minute lead through David Vaughan's 20-yard curler.

The Baggies responded strongly and Odemwingie's well-taken goal deservedly clawed them level in the 37th minute.

And James Morrison turned the game on its head when he fired the hosts 2-1 up in the 51st-minute - his second goal in as many home matches.

However, the twists and turns kept coming right until the death and Gary Taylor-Fletcher levelled matters in the 80th minute.

But Albion regrouped admirably and The Hawthorns literally erupted when Odemwingie poked home what proved the winner three minutes from time - his eighth, and possibly most vital, of the campaign.

The relief inside the stadium was tangible at full-time as Roberto Di Matteo's men passed a real test of character.

Odemwingie returned from injury as Di Matteo made four changes, with back-from-illness Youssouf Mulumbu, Jerome Thomas and Gabriel Tamas, available after a three-game ban, also earning recalls. The men to make way were Gianni Zuiverloon, James Hurst, Giles Barnes and the injured Ishmael Miller.

Chris Brunt captained the side while Pablo Ibanez was among the subs after recovering from a hamstring problem.

Holloway named an unchanged Tangerines team from their euphoric double-clinching win over Liverpool on Wednesday.

The two newly-promoted teams were separated by six points before kick off as 16th entertained ninth.

With the club's family ticket offer guaranteeing a bumper crowd, there was a terrific atmosphere inside The Hawthorns, although the home hordes were heaving a huge sigh of relief after only 79 seconds.

A simple Luke Varney flick-on put DJ Campbell in on goal and after holding off Paul Scharner, the ex-Blues striker inexplicably fired wide from 12 yards.

But there had been a real purpose about the Baggies' play from the start and they soon created a great chance of their own.

In the fourth minute, Odemwingie whipped a left-wing cross to the unmarked Brunt at the far post, but the Northern Ireland international fired wide from an acute angle.

Two minutes later, tigerish play by Thomas set up a shooting chance for Odemwingie, who dragged his effort wide of the near post from 20 yards.

But the Seasiders soon built up a head of steam of their own and Brunt was relieved to see his header from Charlie Adam's swung-in free-kick loop onto the roof of league debutant Boaz Myhill's net, rather than under the bar.

However, Blackpool drew first blood when Albion only partially cleared an 11th minute corner.

With no Albion defender near him, Vaughan controlled the loose ball on the edge of the area and curled a terrific left-footed strike into the far top corner, giving Myhill no chance.

Albion's already-fragile confidence had taken another blow but they started to get some joy out of Thomas' left-wing runs.

In the 18th minute, the winger whipped in a terrific centre and Richard Kingson had to be at full stretch to punch clear.

Albion continued to keep Blackpool pegged back and cross after cross was whipped into Kingson's box - but the visitors' defence stood firm.

The Baggies had another let off in the 25th minute when Tamas decided against attacking the ball, thinking it was going out of play. He was wrong and Varney seized on the opportunity, cutting in from the right before blazing wastefully over from 18 yards.

Albion again responded well and Brunt was denied a certain goal when his point-blank volley from Marek Cech's centre was deflected wide by Stephen Crainey.

Moments later, Crainey was fortunate to see the ball bounce off his knee from Thomas' centre and bounce straight into Kingson's grateful grasp.

Then, in the same minute, Morrison saw a delightful chip from the edge of the area loop just over.

At times, Mulumbu seemed to be taking on Blackpool single-handedly and a foraging right-wing run ended with him planting an acute drive in Kingson's midriff.

Albion deserved to be level - and they were on 37.

Odemwingie timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and control Graham Dorrans' terrific diagonal ball before slipping it past Kingson from 12 yards in one movement.

The Baggies were soon back on the attack but Tamas was off target with a flicked header from Brunt's corner.

Odemwingie was then guilty of real wastefulness after being sent clear down the left by the dangerous Thomas. Instead of squaring to a team-mate, the former Lokomotiv Moscow ace went for goal and dragged his effort well wide of the near post.

Albion picked up from where they left off after the break and great hold-play by Odemwingie set up Morrison, who fired straight at Kingson from an acute angle.

But only Campbell's glaring miss kept the Baggies level on 50.

Adam put Campbell clean through with a sublime slide-rule pass but the former Leicester ace slid the ball wide of the far post with only the advancing Myhill to beat.

Albion surged straight up the other end to snatch a 51st-minute lead.

Thomas controlled Gonzalo Jara's cross-field pass and skipped past the man he had been terrorising all afternoon, Neal Eardley, and although Kingson got a hand to his low cross, Morrison stabbed the loose ball home.

Just a minute later, Morrison's persistence on the edge of the box fashioned himself another chance - but he shot straight at Kingson on the turn.

However, Blackpool looked dangerous every time they broke and Cech denied sub Matt Phillips a simple tap-in when he intercepted Crainey's low cross inside the six-yard box.

Back came Albion and Brunt failed to polish off a great chance when he spun on Odemwingie's pull-back and fired wide from 15 yards.

It should have been 3-1 on 63 when Morrison put Odemwingie clean through, but the lone striker shot straight at the advancing Kingson and the danger was cleared.

Another great chance went begging on 69 when Morrison blazed over from Odemwingie's lay-off with just Kingson to beat.

Albion paid dearly for those misses when Phillips broke free down the right and his low cross was turned in by Taylor-Fletcher at the far post.

But the Baggies were back in front in the 87th minute when Odemwingie outmuscled Craig Cathcart to get on the end of Scharner's long punt forward before stabbing past Kingson.

Incredibly, just a minute later, Blackpool almost levelled when some penalty-box pinball saw Jara block Campbell's effort inside the six-yard box and then sub Alex Baptiste and Campbell, again, were unable to force the ball home.

Nerves on both sides were shredded by now but Albion valiantly negotiated four minutes of stoppage time to seal a priceless win.

ALBION (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Jara, Scharner, Tamas, Cech; Mulumbu (Shorey 89), Dorrans (Tchoyi 85); Brunt, Morrison (Cox 70), Thomas; Odemwingie. Subs not used: Carson (gk), Ibanez, Bednar, Zuiverloon.

BLACKPOOL (4-3-3): Kingson; Eardley (Ormerod 67), Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Vaughan, Adam, Grandin (Phillips 54); Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Varney (Baptiste 77). Subs not used: Rachubka (gk), Southern, Euell, Sylvestre.

GOALS: ALBION - Odemwingie (37 & 87), Morrison (51). BLACKPOOL - Vaughan (11), Taylor-Fletcher (80).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Cech (time-wasting 90+1). BLACKPOOL - Vaughan (foul 56), Cathcart (foul 76).

REFEREE: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

ATTENDANCE: 25,316.

ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.

PIC: OH, JIMMY JIMMY!...Morrison celebrates his goal against Blackpool

    Data provided by Press Association

    QUICK FACTS

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