West Brom 2 Cardiff 1

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A Lee Hughes goal five minutes from time gave West Bromwich Albion a crucial 2-1 victory over Cardiff City at The Hawthorns.

Neil Clement's 55th-minute header had put promotion-chasing Albion in front but substitute Alan Lee's glancing header hauled The Bluebirds level with 10 minutes remaining.

With Baggies goalkeeper Russell Hoult having been ruled out with a back problem, Albion boss Gary Megson gave second-choice Joe Murphy his first start of the season.

Murphy was tested as early as the first minute after Paul Parry crossed for Robert Earnshaw, who produced a scuffed shot which Murphy saved with an outstretched right hand.

Welsh international Jason Koumas then fired in a shot which was comfortably collected by visiting keeper Martyn Margetson.

Paul Robinson failed to beat Margetson with a header from Lee Hughes' right-wing cross although Neil Clement's long-range effort almost caught out the Cardiff keeper.

Mark Kinsella forced Margetson to touch around the woodwork but the Bluebirds keeper was left rooted to his line when a Koumas free-kick drifted wide of the post.

The Bluebirds' resistance was broken just seconds later when Koumas swung over a cross from the left and Clement rose to head past Margetson.

Cardiff hit back with a deserved equaliser on 80 when substitute Lee headed Graham Kavanagh's cross past the helpless Murphy.

There was time for a final twist however as Baggies substitute Lloyd Dyer crossed from the left and skipper Thomas Gaardsoe's powerful header beat Margetson before Hughes applied a final touch on the line.