West Brom are top of the Championship.

Slaven Bilic "very proud" as Baggies hold onto top spot

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  • 2019-11-10 03:05:56 3 days ago
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West Brom manager Slaven Bilic was proud of his side's performance to grind out a 1-0 win over Hull and stay top of the Championship.

The Baggies were not entirely comfortable at the KCOM Stadium and they almost fell behind when Kamil Grosicki missed the target after being put through on goal.

However, when Jake Livermore's vicious effort from outside the edge of the area beat George Long in the 28th minute, it was clear there was only going to be one winner.

Grady Diangana spurned a fine effort in the second half, but ultimately West Brom did enough to seal the win and maintain their two-point cushion at the summit.

"Credit to both teams," Bilic said after the game. "The work-rate, it was a good game and it was a game which two teams came into with confidence, both teams have had a great run in the last few games.

"We expected that from them, they are very good at transitions, the way they had their chance with Grosicki, it's typical Hull.

"All in all it was a good performance for us, the only thing that was missing was the second goal, we created not too many clear cuts, apart from Grady's chance.

"But mainly because of the result, you are suffering until the end of the game because they are taking risks more and more.

"To be fair they didn't create a lot later in the game when they were gambling and the wingers were staying up. We managed the game really well.

"I am very proud of the performance and it was a clean sheet, 1-0, a tough away game, a very tough away game, the only thing that was missing was the second goal."

Despite the defeat, Grant McCann was also pleased with parts of his side's performance against the top-of-the-table outfit.

"I think first half West Brom were much better than us," the Hull head coach said.

"We didn't lay a glove on them, we probably gave them a little bit too much respect and they're a top team, they're top of the league for a reason.

"I was disappointed with the first-half performance but in the second half I thought we were the better team.

"In the whole game I thought we had the best chances and the most clear-cut chances in the game. On another day we'd have taken it. That bit is frustrating.

"I was (heartened) second half. For us to get those chances against one of the best teams in the league, it shows that we're getting there and getting better.

"I think on a whole it was a nothing game, both keepers didn't have much to do. I feel as though we had chances but we just couldn't score them, we have been ruthless over the last 10 or 11 games, but today we wasn't."

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Slaven Bilic "very proud" as Baggies hold onto top spot

Jonathan Woodgate: 'I still have the backing of my players'

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate insisted he still has the backing of his players after his struggling side earned a point at QPR.

Boro, third from bottom of the Sky Bet Championship and now without a win in nine matches, drew 2-2 at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, where Britt Assombalonga scored both their goals.

Woodgate's squad has been ravaged by injuries but he was boosted by George Friend, Darren Randolph and Ashley Fletcher making themselves available to play despite not being fully fit.

Keeper Randolph, who was this week included in the Republic of Ireland squad, produced a string of excellent saves.

Woodgate said: "Randolph was out, George Friend was back in training but I didn't think he'd be playing, Fletcher out – they come and knock on my door on Friday morning.

"They said, 'Gaffer, I want to play. I'm not 100 per cent fit but I want to play for you'. That's top.

"The situation we're going through at the minute, it's difficult and they could have taken the easy option and not played.

"Darren could have said, 'I'm not 100 per cent, I want to wait for Ireland'. He played today. George Friend played after three training sessions. Ashley Fletcher had a calf strain and played.

"They want to play. They want to play for us. That was really positive. It shows what the players are like – they want to stick together and they want to play for me.

"For the situation we're in, there's no negativity. Everyone's positive and that's really important for me."

Boro had not scored in their previous four matches and Assombalonga had only scored once since August.

But Woodgate said: "I've said all along that he will score goals.

"Every striker goes through patches and confidence dips. Stick with it. He's a goalscorer.

"Stay confident because he will score goals. Back him no matter what. No matter what situation he's going through, I back my number nine."

Assombalonga headed in a first-half opener but Nahki Wells equalised and an own goal by Jonny Howson meant Rangers led at half-time.

But Boro were handed a lifeline midway through the second half when Wells' appalling backpass went straight to Assombalonga, who took full advantage.

QPR manager Mark Warburton defended on-loan Burnley striker Wells, whose goal was his ninth of the season.

"It (the backpass) didn't help but he's also the man that's scored a lot of goals for us and got us out of some sticky situations and he's human," Warburton said.

"If we take responsibility at the other end and put the ball in the back of the net then it relieves that burden and that (the backpass) is not the main talking point.

"Nahki is a top pro and he came straight into the dressing room and put his hand up for it, but for me it's not about that – he's human and you learn from your mistake and move on.

"But we should have put the ball in and been far more clinical in front of goal.

"We defend as a team and attack as a team and today we had a lot of possession in the second half in a good position at 2-1.

"What then happened, it happened, but how many chances did we have to put the ball in the net and didn't do it?"

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Scott Parker describes Aleksandar Mitrovic as "an absolute animal"

Fulham manager Scott Parker branded Aleksandar Mitrovic an "animal" and saluted his side's character after they returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at Birmingham.

Mitrovic's 12th goal of the season silenced the Birmingham boo-boys and moved the Cottagers up to sixth.

The Serbian striker, who had an effort disallowed and was booked for his part in a flare-up with Jude Bellingham, hooked home in the 52nd minute after Birmingham goalkeeper Lee Camp dropped substitute Cyrus Christie's cross.

Parker was delighted with the contribution of Mitrovic.

"He looks like an absolute animal, chasing things down, and if that is the base, the goals will come," he said.

"That's what we want from him; he is the talisman, the guy everyone looks to and the pressure is on him. He needs to understand what he gives to the team.

"For all his goals, for everything that goes round him, all I ask of him is forget the goals, just go and turn up and be the Mitrovic he can be."

Parker was also delighted with the character of his team after they bounced back from a 3-0 home defeat to Hull last week.

"We came here and showed real character in tough conditions and were worthy winners," he added.

"First and foremost you must show character, desire and passion and if you have that, you will be all right, because there's no doubt we have technical, gifted players."

Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak made superb saves from striker Lukas Jutkiewicz's point-blank header, Kristian Pedersen's early angled drive and Fran Villalba's flick as Blues were sentenced to a second successive defeat.

Blues caretaker head coach Pep Clotet felt his team was hard done by.

He said: "We had 16 shots, they had 10, we had four shots on target, they had three and from these three, two were valid, because I think the goal is a blatant foul on Marc Roberts.

"Mitrovic never wanted to head that cross – he thought the keeper was going to catch it and he just bashes against Marc Roberts who had the position won.

"Roberts was sent three yards outside then the ball dropped to Mitrovic, who was in that position thanks to a foul, so it's a clear foul.

"But those are margins. We had very clear chances as well that we should have scored.

"I thought we had everything there to have secured points, if not three then one."

But the visitors could have made it 2-0 at the death when substitute Aboubakar Kamara's shot hit the inside of the post on the break.

Fulham were denied by the offside flag in the 14th minute when Mitrovic pounced after Camp dropped Bobby Reid's shot.

There was a flashpoint off the ball at the end of the first half after Anthony Knockaert landed on Bellingham, apparently splitting the Birmingham midfielder's lip.

Mitrovic and Bellingham then shared a heated exchange and both players were booked.

Parker said: "I just see it as heat of the moment, and they just squared up – it's handbags really."

Clotet said: "It was normal emotions in the game – I don't think much happened. I don't know what Jude was booked for."

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