Soccer-Caretaker WBA boss hails late equaliser to stop rot


Dec 22 (Reuters) - West Bromwich Albion caretaker boss Keith Downing hailed Matej Vydra's first goal for the club that halted a miserable losing run and brought some cheer after a difficult week for the Premier League strugglers.

The Baggies had lost four straight league matches which led to Steve Clarke being dismissed as manager last week with the club mired in a relegation battle.

That looked like being five after Jake Livermore put Hull City ahead in the 28th minute at the Hawthorns on Saturday, but the Czech striker levelled four minutes from time when he neatly finished a good move involving Shane Long and Zoltan Gera.

The point left West Brom in 16th place on 16 points, three ahead of the relegation zone.

"I just think, with the difficult week we have had, it is a big boost for us," Downing told reporters. "I wouldn't say we were jumping through hoops but we have certainly stopped the rot and that was important to do.

"I envisaged that it was going to be a tight game, I envisaged that the team is short on confidence a little bit, with a little bit of edginess and tension to it.

"Obviously the crowd got like that as well in the first half, and rightly so, but I thought in second half we got some sort of momentum to our game."

West Brom have not won since a 2-0 home success against Crystal Palace on Nov. 2 and Livermore's strike on the counter attack was the least the visitors deserved from the opening half.

Downing reacted by bringing Saido Berahino on for Scott Sinclair at halftime and then Vydra and Gera in the second period.

"To be perfectly honest it needed a change. We didn't play well in the first half," said the former midfielder of Wolverhampton Wanderers, arch rivals of West Brom.

"I was disappointed with the goal that we gave them so at halftime I had to make a couple of changes... and it had some sort of impact.

"I don't think we created a massive amount of chances, but we got some momentum, a lot of possession, worked the ball and persevered."


Vydra, on loan from Italian side Udinese, had been used sparingly by Clarke this season, making only six league appearances off the bench without scoring.

But he took his chance well against Hull, now 12th on 20 points, and Downing praised the 21-year-old's professionalism.

"He's waited a long time," Downing said.

"He's been persevering in training. He's had a few niggles here and there, it's a big step for him but will be a massive boost for him.

"He's had a good couple of weeks. He arrived at the club without a pre-season really and he's played a lot of catch-up in the last few months. Recently he's shown he's up to speed and shown that sharpness he's got in front of goal."

Vydra is likely to get further chances for the away trips to Tottenham Hotspur (Dec. 26) and West Ham United (Dec. 28) next week with strikers Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe still not fit.

Downing was cautiously optimistic at getting something from Spurs, who are also under caretaker stewardship following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas last week.

"We are buoyed by the point and we go there with some hope," said Downing, who doesn't expect to be named permanent manager.

"I'm here to support. I've been here four or five years and always have done. I've sort of stepped up and just tried to pave the way for the new regime." (Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien)

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