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17:59 23rd January 2011

Blackburn 2 Albion 0

TWO goals in a six-minute spell either side of the break saw Blackburn take the spoils from an otherwise close encounter.

With the Ewood Park clash seemingly heading towards a goalless half-time scoreline, Gabriel Tamas' bizarre own goal gifted the hosts the lead four minutes before the break.

And two minutes into the second half, Junior Hoilett's cracker doubled Rovers' lead and gave Albion a mountain to climb.

But the Baggies also created chances and should have been awarded a 68th-minute penalty when Jermaine Jones scythed down Peter Odemwingie.

Referee Mark Clattenburg deemed the challenge to be outside the area, with TV replays clearly showing it was well inside the box.

The defeat leaves the Baggies 15th in the Barclays Premier League table and three points above the drop zone after 23 games.

Jonas Olsson made his first Barclays Premier League appearance in three months following an Achilles injury and suspension for his FA Cup red card.

He replaced Paul Scharner in central defence, with the Austria international moving into midfield for the injured Graham Dorrans (ankle).

The hosts handed starts to new signings Jones and the returning Roque Santa Cruz.

Albion made a positive start as James Morrison charged down Morten Gamst Pedersen's pass in the opening minute.

The Scotland international, who was being watched from the stands by national boss Craig Levein, headed the ball forward for Odemwingie.

The Nigeria hitman raced forward before letting fly with a dipping 20-yard volley which Paul Robinson just managed to turn around his right-hand post.

Albion had started brightly and, 12 minutes later, Scharner pipped Robinson to Jerome Thomas' deflected left-wing cross and laid the ball off for Thomas, whose shot was turned just past the far post by the Rovers keeper.

Blackburn's first threat did not arrive until the 29th minute when Nikola Kalinic teed up Hoilett from Pedersen's throw-in.

The Canadian midfielder drilled in a low strike from the edge of the box which Boaz Myhill did well to keep out at the expense of a corner.

From the resulting Pedersen flag-kick, Tamas took a blow and lay injured inside the six-yard.

But referee Clattenburg allowed play to continue and the ball landed at the feet of Chris Samba, whose fierce drive was parried by Myhill at full stretch to his right.

Hoilett slid the ball through to Santa Cruz in the 34th minute and he raced to the byline before seeing his pull-back for Kalinic blocked by Tamas.

A minute later, Santa Cruz laid the ball off for Samba from David Dunn's cross and this time the Rovers centre-half saw his exocet fly a whisker wide of the left-hand post from 20 yards.

At the other end, Thomas collected Chris Brunt's diagonal ball on the left and left Michel Salgado for dead before seeing his 15-yard shot deflect off Samba and fly just wide of the near post, with Robinson scrambling.

But Albion gifted Steve Kean's men the lead in the 41st minute when Tamas unwittingly headed Dunn's right-wing cross straight past Myhill, under pressure from Kalinic. The only possible explanation for this bizarre own goal was that Tamas had mistimed his jump.

Moments later, Dunn squared for Santa Cruz, who this time saw his 12-yard strike well saved by the left-hand of Myhill.

Brunt's throughball presented Scharner with a chance to level in first-half stoppage time - but the former Wigan man's strike was stopped by Samba's last-ditch lunge.

Within two minutes of the restart, the Baggies' task became harder as Tamas allowed Hoilett to cut inside and smash a thunderous 20-yard strike past the helpless Myhill.

Thomas had Salgado twisting and turning on the edge of the area in the 53rd minute and he unleashed a swerving shot that looked to be heading for the bottom right-hand corner until Robinson palmed it away in spectacular fashion.

From the resulting Brunt corner, Scharner headed over from 12 yards when he should have at least hit the target.

Roberto Di Matteo made a change in the 57th minute with Somen Tchoyi coming on for Youssouf Mulumbu.

But seconds later, it was the hosts threatening again as Salgado picked up Pedersen's throw-in and let fly with a volley that Myhill punched away to safety.

Kean made a double switch in the 64th minute, with ex-Baggie Jason Roberts coming on for Kalinic and Steven Nzonzi for Dunn.

The Baggies broke quickly in the 67th minute and Morrison slid Thomas in on goal - but he saw Robinson block his shot at his feet.

Jones came through the back of Odemwingie from Thomas' pass seconds later. It was a clear penalty - but Tyne & Wear official Clattenburg deemed it to be just outside the area, when replays clearly showed it was well inside the box.

Jermaine Jones blocked Tchoyi's effort in the 74th minute and Robinson did well to keep out Brunt's well-struck follow-up from 25 yards.

A half-chance fell to Jonas Olsson from a Brunt corner moments later - but the Swede sliced his shot horribly wide from 12 yards.

In the final minute, Martin Olsson forced a fine save from Myhill and Pedersen missed his header from the rebound before Roberts' effort clipped off Jonas Olsson and over.

BLACKBURN (4-4-2): Robinson; Salgado (Hanley 76), Samba, Givet, M Olsson; Hoillet, Dunn (Nzonzi 64), Jones, Pedersen; Kalinic (Roberts 64), Santa Cruz. Subs not used: Bunn (gk), E Diouf, Benjani, M Diouf.

ALBION (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Jara, Tamas, J Olsson, Cech; Scharner, Mulumbu (Tchoyi 57); Brunt, Morrison (Bednar 76), Thomas; Odemwingie. Subs not used: Carson (gk), Shorey, Cox, Ibanez, Zuiverloon.

GOALS: ROVERS - Tamas (own goal, 41), Hoilett (47).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Thomas (simulation 83).

REFEREE: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).



PIC: NO WAY THROUGH...Odemwingie tussles with Samba

    Data provided by Press Association


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