Belfast Telegraph

Peter Odemwingie banishes his memories of Lokomotiv

By Ian Edwards

West Bromwich Albion 1 - Birmingham City 1: Peter Odemwingie is relieved that the traumatic days of racist abuse in Russia are behind him. He has found sanctuary at West Bromwich Albion and the loss of the bigots at Lokomotiv Moscow is certainly Roberto di Matteo's gain.

Odemwingie complained of racism on numerous occasions during his three years in Russian football, but unfortunately his objections were rarely heard. The "Thank You WBA" banner, depicting bananas, which was flown in Russia after his £1.5m transfer has been replaced by another that flies in the corner of the Hawthorns, the brevity of which is the perfect riposte.

"Thanks Lokomotiv" is a sentiment every Albion supporter shares. Their Nigerian international is flourishing in his new home and a second goal in five games, which could become three if he successfully claims the equaliser to Cameron Jerome's first goal of the season for Birmingham represents excellent value for money so far.

Odemwingie was the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround, but barely casts a backwards glance to Moscow now. "It wasn't just racism, although there was that. Lokomotiv is going through a crisis and they tried to blame it on me because Nigeria qualified for the World Cup and Russia didn't. I am just glad it is all over," he said.

He will be trying to convince the Premier League that he managed the faintest of touches on a cross from Jerome Thomas, before it struck the shins of Scott Dann for the first of three goals in 19 minutes that condemned Birmingham to their first defeat of the season.

If there is doubt over that, he certainly added to a miserable day for Lee Bowyer. Odemwingie intercepted a poor touch from the Birmingham midfielder and defeated Ben Foster.

Subsequently Bowyer was substituted for his own good, after an ugly challenge on Gabriel Tamas resulted in a booking and was then involved in a foul-mouthed exchange with Albion supporters behind the dug-out.

Hardly the kind of outcome to a day that had begun so positively for Alex McLeish, with the signing of his new three-year contract. "I had reservations about signing it on the day of the game. It is bittersweet," said McLeish. The Birmingham manager's complaints about Jonas Olsson fouling Liam Ridgewell before Albion's final goal had some merit, but his team were "not at the races" by then.

Match facts

West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Carson; Jara, Olsson, Tamas, Shorey; Mulumbu (Reid, 75), Scharner; Odemwingie, Thomas (Barnes, 88), Brunt; Fortune (Dorrans, 46). Substitutes not used Myhill (gk), Tchoyi, Ibanez, Bednar.

Booked Odemwingie

Birmingham City (4-4-1-1): Foster; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgwell; Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Bowyer (Zigic, 67); Hleb (Beausejour, 82); Jerome (Derbyshire, 79). Substitutes not used Taylor (gk), Murphy, Madera, Fahey.

Booked Bowyer

Man of the match Odemwingie

Possession West Brom 53% Birmingham 47%

Shots on target West Brom 10 Birmingham 3

Referee C Foy (Merseyside) Attendance 23,062

Match rating 7/10.

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