STEVE Clarke felt his team made today’s 3-2 win over QPR harder work than it should have been as they moved up to fourth in the Barclays Premier League table.
The Baggies roared into a two-goal lead within 22 minutes as James Morrison and Zoltan Gera both fired their second goals of the season.
Albion went to sleep on 35, allowing Adel Taarabt to give Rangers a lifeline and make the half-time score 2-1.
Further uncharacteristic defensive sloppiness after the break then handed the initiative to the visitors until Youssouf Mulumbu’s 85th-minute strike – his first of the campaign – eased the pressure.
But even then the hosts made it a nervous finish by giving Esteban Granero space to fire home a second for the R’s.
“Yes, we probably made harder work of it than it should have been,” said Clarke.
“From 2-0 up I thought we became a bit too open.
“Defensively it wasn’t a performance you would associate with us.
“Attacking-wise we played some fantastic football going forward and created a lot of chances in the game.
“It took a little bit longer to see the game out than it should have done.”
The Hawthorns boss was left purring over the Baggies’ third goal, which made it 11 goals in four home league games this term.
“It started on one side of the pitch and we worked it across to the other,” Clarke added.
“I’m not sure what the right-back Gonzo was doing up there at that stage of the game.
“He was there and he played a great little one-two with James Morrison and produced a great cut-back for Mulumbu.
“That was a good goal but even from there I can say I thought we were a little bit sloppy defensively today, which is not like us.
“We conceded the second goal which made it nervous and QPR missed a big chance at the end as well.”
The Albion chief also explained he took Gabriel Tamas off at half-time for tactical reasons and replaced him with Gonzalo Jara Reyes.
“I took Gabi off because I felt the referee had his eye on him,” said Clarke.
“I thought he booked him really easily and it wasn’t worth the risk of leaving him on the pitch because if he'd got another foul against him at the start of the second half I thought he’d give him a second yellow, which would have left us with ten men.
“It was a tactical decision to take him off.”