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14:38 14th May 2011

Albion 1 Everton 0

YOUSSOUF Mulumbu's seventh goal of the season brought a winning end to Albion's home campaign - as they ended a 35-game wait for a clean sheet against ten-man Everton.

The all-action midfielder netted the winner in the tenth minute - and the only surprise was that this end-of-season thriller did not produce more goals.

The Baggies' 12th victory of a terrific season - which was all-but sealed by Everton sub Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's straight red card 13 minutes from time - boosted the hosts' chances of keeping their status as the West Midlands' highest-placed team at the end of the campaign.

It also completed a fine double over the Toffees, who had lost just one of their previous ten league games before today.

Gabriel Tamas was handed his first start since the opening fixture of Roy Hodgson's 11-game reign as the Baggies boss made four changes from the Wolves defeat.

The Romania international replaced Abdoulaye Meite at centre-half while fit again duo Steven Reid (calf) and Chris Brunt (hamstring), plus back-from-suspension Paul Scharner, came in for Gonzalo Jara, Somen Tchoyi and James Morrison.

David Moyes made one change as Seamus Coleman replaced Jack Rodwell.

The pressure was off both sides as 13th entertained seventh and it was Everton who recorded the first shot of the game, with John Heitinga curling well wide from 20 yards.

Albion looked full of invention every time they poured forward and Toffees keeper Tim Howard was relieved to see the in-form Peter Odemwingie fire into his side-netting from Mulumbu's flighted ball.

And the Baggies took a deserved lead after only ten minutes.

Odemwingie outmuscled Sylvain Distin to get on the end of skipper Brunt's pass before charging into the box and squaring to Mulumbu, who tapped home from six yards.

The goal only added to the party atmosphere inside the stadium, as the home hordes celebrated Barclays Premier League survival, which was mathematically confirmed last weekend.

But they were on their feet for another reason in the 14th minute, when Scott Carson kept the hosts in front with a wonderful save.

Victor Anichebe had a clear sight of goal after he turned Jonas Olsson on the edge of the box, but Carson was equal to his 15-yard effort, which he turned around the post with his outstretched left leg.

From Leighton Baines' ensuing corner, Phil Jagielka flashed a near-post header just over.

Everton were enjoying a mini spell of pressure but Seamus Coleman failed to trouble Carson's goal with a speculative 25-yard drive.

Albion were soon back on the attack and Howard had to pull off a wonderful reflex save to palm over Brunt's ferocious free-kick from an acute angle. Incredibly, referee Anthony Taylor signalled a goal-kick!

Everton had very much regrouped after conceding and Anichebe had Carson scrambling across his line when his right-footed 20-yarder took a deflection off Mulumbu and screwed just wide.

Moments later, Heitinga was just off target with a header from Coleman's right-wing cross.

But it was Albion who went closest to troubling the scoresheet again in the 25th minute.

Jerome Thomas tore apart the Everton defence with a fine left-wing run, riding two challenges in the box and skipping past Howard, only for his goalbound effort to be cleared off the line by Tony Hibbert.

Another great Albion chance went begging four minutes later when Olsson flicked-on Reid's long throw-in towards the far post. With the goal at his mercy, the unmarked Odemwingie looked certain to score, but he headed straight at Howard and the danger was cleared.

It was Carson's turn to pull off another great save in the 39th minute, when he dived low to his left to push away Anichebe's downward header from Hibbert's pinpoint right-wing centre.

A very entertaining half, full of chances at both ends, finished with Leon Osman heading a couple of yards wide from Coleman's cross - but Albion just about deserved their lead.

Everton started the second half on the front foot and Osman should have done better when he chested down Mikel Arteta's deep corner and screwed well wide from 15 yards.

Carson then had to be at full stretch to palm away Baines' dangerous cross before Phil Neville's follow-up shot was blocked.

Back came Albion and after Odemwingie charged forward onto Mulumbu's slide-rule pass, the striker's low cross evaded Simon Cox's outstretched boot at the far post by the narrowest of margins.

The action swung back to the other end and Nicky Shorey and Tamas both had to produce vital blocks to deny Osman and Arteta respectively from Baines' corner.

But Albion weathered the pressure and almost made it 2-0 on 65 when Scharner, sporting a blue-and-white Baggies hairdo, headed into the side-netting from Odemwingie's angled cross.

Everton's search for an equaliser had seen the introduction of Jermaine Beckford, but the ex-Leeds marksman was off target with a header from Neville's cross.

Another sub, Albion's Morrison, had the next effort at goal, but he was well off target from 20 yards after a mazy run.

But the Baggies had a let off on 76 when Bilyaletdinov blazed over from 15 yards after Hibberts' cross had fallen invitingly for him.

That proved the Russian's final contribution to Everton's attack as, just a minute later, he was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Morrison - just five minutes after coming on.

With a man advantage, Albion bossed the final stages and Scharner saw a goalbound effort blocked by Jagielka after a neat turn on the edge of the box.

Morrison then headed over from Shorey's left-wing cross and Odemwingie should have wrapped it up six minutes from time when he was put clean through. Instead of passing to the unmarked Brunt, he instead went for goal and his effort was brilliantly pushed away by Howard.

Everton's last hope of snatching a draw came and went with Beckford's tame header from Heitinga's free-kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

ALBION (4-4-1-1): Carson; Reid, Tamas, Olsson, Shorey; Brunt (Fortune 90+3), Scharner, Mulumbu, Thomas (Tchoyi 78); Cox (Morrison 67); Odemwingie. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Miller, Meite, Jara.

EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Coleman (Beckford 62), Heitinga, Neville (Bilyaletdinov 72), Arteta; Osman; Anichebe (Rodwell 80). Subs not used: Mucha (gk), Gueye, Vellios, Baxter.

GOAL: ALBION - Mulumbu (10).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Thomas (foul 62), Tamas (kicking ball away 90). EVERTON - Neville (foul 49), Heitinga (foul 64).

SENDING-OFF: EVERTON - Bilyaletdinov (serious foul play 77).

REFEREE: A Taylor (Manchester).


ALBION STARMAN: Gabriel Tamas.

PIC: MATCH-WINNER...Mulumbu celebrates his early goal

    Data provided by Press Association


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