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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
15:28 11th September 2011

PETER Odemwingie experienced an eventful return to action, grabbing Albion's winner and missing a second-half penalty as Roy Hodgson's men bagged their first points of the season in Norfolk.

The Nigeria striker poked the Baggies ahead inside three minutes and, in a pulsating encounter, had a 76th-minute spot-kick saved by stand-in City keeper Declan Rudd.

Albion created plenty of chances at Carrow Road, with Graham Dorrans smashing the post, but they had to dig deep at regular intervals to keep a lively Norwich side at bay.

This was the Baggies' third successive win at the East Anglia venue and a well-earned first clean sheet of the campaign.

Hodgson made three changes for the Carrow Road clash, with fit-again Odemwingie, Dorrans and Jerome Thomas all handed their first league starts of the campaign.

Skipper Chris Brunt and James Morrison, after their international exertions, and Somen Tchoyi dropped to the bench while Jonas Olsson captained the team.

Before kick-off, both sets of fans warmly paid their respects to young Albion Academy player Blake Melbourne when the news of the 14-year-old's passing was relayed over the tannoy system.

Moments later, a minute's silence was impeccably observed on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA.

It took Odemwingie just two minutes and seven seconds of his comeback from an ankle injury to break the deadlock.

Nicky Shorey played a diagonal ball towards the Canaries box and after hesitation by centre-half Ritchie De Laet and left-back Marc Tierney, Odemwingie nipped between them to poke the ball past Rudd.

It was a hammer blow for Norwich, but they slowly regrouped and caused a real moment of panic in the Albion box in the ninth minute. Andrew Surman got in behind the Baggies defence and after Ben Foster had diverted his low cross away from goal, Chris Martin's instinctive stab flew just wide of the left-hand post.

The jet-heeled Elliott Bennett began causing the Baggies problems down their left flank and from his centre Bradley Johnson miscued a half chance well wide.

Seconds later, Bennett saw another cross headed just wide by Surman, although Foster had it covered.

It was proving a lively, end-to-end encounter and former Baggie Leon Barnett protected Rudd on 20 when he blocked Odemwingie's goalbound effort from the edge of the box.

Norwich broke straight upfield where Foster easily gathered Surman's tame 20-yard effort from Grant Holt's lay-off.

Uncharacteristically, Albion had struggled to keep hold of the ball during the opening stages but a fine move involving Dorrans and Shorey resulted in Kyle Naughton making a vital near-post interception to prevent Odemwingie getting on the end of Thomas' low cross.

Albion were beginning to keep City pegged back and the excellent Youssouf Mulumbu did well to shrug off two Norwich challenges before firing just wide of the left-hand post.

Moments later, the Canaries created their best chance to date. Tierney's cross found Bennett in space 12 yards out but the right winger wastefully volleyed high over the bar.

Now it was Paul Lambert's men turning the screw and Foster had to be on his toes to push away Bennett's fierce 20-yard drive.

But Albion could have been two-up on 36 when Mulumbu dissected the Norwich defence with an inch-perfect through-ball. Odemwingie raced clear but saw his angled shot diverted to safety by Rudd's legs.

Moments later, Odemwingie left De Laet for dead down the right before seeing his cross evade the unmarked Shane Long inside the box by a matter of inches.

Albion retrieved possession and Rudd had to show a safe pair of hands to keep out Thomas' 20-yard grass-cutter.

Norwich were now clinging on for dear life and they survived a major scare on 40 when Dorrans saw a 30-yard missile smash the left-hand post. Albion eventually worked the loose ball back to the Scotland international who had another long-range effort spilled by Rudd, but City scrambled it to safety before Long could pounce.

Just before the second half got underway, news filtered through of an Albion player enjoying an afternoon to remember elsewhere, with on-loan Chris Wood grabbing a hat-trick in Blues' victory over Millwall at St Andrew's.

The goalmouth action showed no sign of letting up after the break, although Andrew Crofts was well off target with a volley from Surman's centre.

Steven Reid then had to make a vital headed clearance from right in front of the Albion goal to prevent Holt converting Bennett's deep centre.

Albion took a while to find their rhythm after the restart but, on 55, Odemwingie tested Rudd with a low drive after Long had flicked on Foster's huge clearance.

Back came Norwich and Johnson was only a whisker away with a 30-yard rocket from Martin's lay-off.

The Sky Sports viewers at home were certainly getting their money's worth and Thomas went close with a 25-yard curler just before the hour mark.

But Norwich had been the better side since the interval and were enjoying plenty of possession inside the Baggies half.

On 63, Crofts was just wide with a low angled 20-yard drive.

James Morrison came on for a tiring Graham Dorrans in the 69th minute and his first touch, from a corner, found Scharner unmarked but the Austrian international was well off target with his header.

But Albion had a great chance to double their lead on 75 when Norwich sub Steve Morison tripped Reid inside the penalty area from a Morrison free-kick.

However, that opportunity was passed up when Rudd kept out Odemwingie's spot-kick with a brilliant full-stretch save to his right.

This was easily Albion's best spell of the half and Thomas whistled a great 25-yard strike just wide of the far post.

Norwich kept Albion pegged back during the latter stages as they desperately searched for an equaliser.

Sub James Vaughan and Crofts both failed to trouble Foster with long-range efforts before Morison missed a great chance, heading Tierney's left-wing cross wide from 12 yards.

But Albion stood firm and, on the amount of chances they created, got the win their performance just about deserved.

NORWICH (4-4-2): Rudd; Naughton, Barnett, De Laet, Tierney; Bennett, Crofts, Johnson, Surman (Hoolahan 62); C Martin (Vaughan 71), Holt (C) (Morison 71). Subs not used: R Martin, Jackson, Fox, Wilbraham.

ALBION (4-4-2): Foster; Reid, Tamas, Olsson (c), Shorey; Dorrans (Morrison 69), Scharner, Mulumbu, Thomas (Brunt 84); Long (Tchoyi 88), Odemwingie. Subs not used: Fulop (gk), Cox, Dawson, Jones.

GOALS: ALBION - Odemwingie (3).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Scharner (foul 16), Reid (foul 90+5).

REFEREE: M Halsey (Hertfordshire).

ATTENDANCE: 26,158.

ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.

    Data provided by Press Association

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