Al­bion ad­vance to go – and col­lect an­other three points!

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - PAUL SUART

DAR­REN Moore ap­pears to have an end­less stack of ‘get out of jail’ cards to play on his dar­ing mis­sion to mo­nop­o­lise the Cham­pi­onship.

De­spite Read­ing’s re­cent up­turn on their trav­els, many had Satur­day’s fix­ture down as a home banker for West Brom.

Yet the Roy­als cashed in on hos­pitable de­fend­ing to forge an early lead they ought to have built on dur­ing a dom­i­nant first half.

Read­ing’s rule soon out­stayed its wel­come.

West Brom were a wholly dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion af­ter the in­ter­val ow­ing to a tac­ti­cal tweak by head coach Moore.

Jay Ro­driguez was dropped deeper to play along­side Har­vey Barnes as a sec­ond No.10. It was a more un­der­stated al­ter­ation than those made in his triple sub­sti­tu­tion at Hills­bor­ough. But just as ef­fec­tive. If Al­bion’s rock-bot­tom first-half dis­play had a touch of Old Kent Road about it, then the sec­ond was more May­fair.

The Bag­gies pinned the vis­i­tors back from the mo­ment ref Dar­ren Eng­land’s whis­tle left his lips and moved through the gears at Read­ing’s ex­pense.

There was no let-up. Just as well, be­cause only af­ter Al­bion had quickly taken the score to 4-1 did most fans feel the points were safe.

The nervi­ness that ex­ists among sup­port­ers, if not the man­ager, is borne out of a real slop­pi­ness at the back that was again on show dur­ing the first pe­riod. The with­drawal of Ty­rone Mears, who con­tin­ues to deputise for the in­jured Matt Phillips at right-wing back, was greeted with loud cheers. Mears had not had the most com­fort­able af­ter­noon, along with the rest of the back five you might ar­gue. Kyle Ed­wards, his suc­ces­sor, added an of­fen­sive thrust down the right side and more than played his part in the turn­around. That the Al­bion academy grad­u­ate was mak­ing his Cham­pi­onship de­but al­most slipped un­der the radar as the goals rained in.

Naturally, Moore re­served ac­claim for “fan­tas­tic” Ed­wards, but also the man he re­placed.

“Ty­rone has played three games in seven days,” Moore said.

“When he came in he wasn’t fit so that’s great tes­ta­ment to him.

“It was his cross Gayle scored from, so great credit to him. Same with Kyle, he’s a won­der­ful prod­uct of our academy.

“I felt the game was right for him at that time, fresh legs, that hunger and de­sire and I think we saw glimpses of the tal­ent he’s got.

“I thought it might put Read­ing on the back foot, which it did do, and he’s con­trib­uted to a valu­able

three points.

“My mes­sage is clear to the home fans. They’re here to sup­port the team and that’s it.

“If we’re go­ing to do any­thing this sea­son we all need to be to­gether. We’ve all got our jobs to do.”

Squan­der­ing leads was the Achilles heel last sea­son as Al­bion tum­bled out of the top flight.

These days they are ar­guably more dan­ger­ous when they’re be­hind.

They have col­lected nine points from los­ing po­si­tions – more than any other team in the Cham­pi­onship.

Pri­mar­ily be­cause they’ve got fire­power – in Dwight Gayle, Har­vey Barnes, Jay Ro­driguez and Phillips – that will al­most al­ways res­cue them.

A fifth straight home league win lifted Moore’s men up to sec­ond and leaves Al­bion’s pro­mo­tion bid on ad­vance to go.

> Ty­rone Mears was praised by the man­ager

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