Sheff Utd v West Brom - 29 August
Roman Bednar made an emphatic return to league action by grabbing a well-taken brace but it was not enough to secure West Brom all three points against Sheffield United in a clash between two sides tipped for promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship which ended 2-2. The striker was making his first league start for Albion since May having served a back-dated three-month drug ban imposed by the Football Association. And following a desperately disappointing opening 45 minutes, he made his mark by striking twice in the space of six second-half minutes at Bramall Lane, either side of Ched Evans' header. His first, a glancing header from an unmarked position, was followed by a thumping second after he turned Matthew Kilgallon. But Shaun Cummings brought down Darius Henderson in the area in the 88th minute, leaving David Cotterill to convert the resulting spot-kick The result extends both sides' unbeaten starts to the Championship season and proved enough to send Roberto Di Matteo's side to the top of the table. Bednar was handed a league start having made his initial return in the midweek Carling Cup triumph over Rotherham, while winger Jerome Thomas was also given his full debut out wide. Blades boss Kevin Blackwell, meanwhile, named the same United side that started last weekend's 3-1 league triumph at Reading. Both sides played out a low-key opening 10 minutes with very little quality, nevertheless, Baggies striker Luke Moore should have brought the game to life shortly after by grabbing the opener. Having been put into a great shooting position the former Aston Villa man squared the ball into no-man's land, presumably looking for strike partner Bednar. The home side were looking the more threatening as the first half wore on but there remained a lack of composure and quality on the ball needed to break the deadlock. Keith Treacy was lively out wide as niggling tackles and free-kicks started to dominate over free-flowing football. Robert Koren curled a free-kick off target in the 35th minute before Andy Taylor and Evans fired wide as a goalless first half drew to a close. The second half started in a more upbeat manner with Scott Carson called upon to make a great diving save to turn Stephen Quinn's deflected effort around a post. And the breakthrough was finally made by the returning Bednar in the 54th minute. Cummings chipped a ball into the area from the right and the Czech Republic striker rose unmarked to glance a header across Mark Bunn's goal from 10 yards. But Albion's lead was wiped out almost immediately as Evans headed home Jamie Ward's deep cross to level matters two minutes later. Amazingly, after such a lifeless first half, the ball was in the net for a third time in the space of six minutes as Bednar grabbed his second. Carson pumped a long ball upfield and Bednar turned Kilgallon before firing the ball past Bunn. The Baggies keeper was again involved shortly after, producing a solid stop to deny Treacy. Baggies defender Jonas Olsson should have wrapped up the points in the 75th minute but he somehow put over from two yards, leaving Cotterill to secure a share of the spoils from the spot.
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