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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Downing praises perseverance

West Brom caretaker manager Keith Downing hailed the perseverance of his players after coming from behind to draw 1-1 with Hull City on Saturday.

Last Updated: 22/12/13 at 08:59 Post Comment

Keith Downing: Impressed with the response to Steve Clarke's sacking

Keith Downing: Impressed with the response to Steve Clarke's sacking

The visitors were in the ascendancy throughout the first period and broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Jake Livermore completed a classic piece of counter-attacking play.

West Brom refused to lie down however and constantly tested an organised Hull defence, which at times appeared impenetrable.

But, in the dying stages, Matej Vydra found himself in space inside the Hull box before turning and firing home his first top-flight goal as the Baggies snatched a point.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it, not the start we wanted going a goal down but I enjoyed the day," Downing, who is filling in following the sacking of Steve Clarke, told Sky Sports.

"At the end of day, a point is a point, we would have liked to have won at home but after four straight defeats we feel this is an improvement."

After a run of four straight defeats, Downing made four changes to the West Brom starting XI but admits hindsight is a wonderful thing after reverting to a familiar formation and reaping the rewards.

Saido Berahino was brought on at half-time and West Brom suddenly discovered the creativity they lacked in the first period and Downing was happy with the way his players reacted.

Shape

"We had a little look in the week at 4-3-3 and then we changed it back to our original shape and we were probably a little more comfortable with it," he added.

"In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have changed it but that is what management is like, you make those decisions but equally at half-time we changed and got that response out of the players."

The introduction of Vydra midway through the second period proved to be a winning move as the Czech striker come on to score his first Premier League goal and earn a late point.

"Matej [Vydra] has had a strange sort of time here. He has been training regularly but not really been in the team," Downing said.

"I'm pleased for him because he's a regular on the training field and working really hard at his game, he's persevered."

Downing has already ruled himself out of the running to become Clarke's successor after he was fired in the wake of defeat to Cardiff last weekend.

However, the caretaker boss, who was Clarke's assistant, believes the situation provides players on the fringes of the squad an opportunity to prove their worth.

"I have been here for four or five years but with Steve going there are opportunities for the rest of players and the squad to stake a claim for when the new man comes in.

"It was a strange week with Steve going but the players have rallied round and got a point at the end of the week."

The former Cheltenham manager explained the present state at The Hawthorns, saying he has been instructed to work on a day-to-day basis as the board seek a replacement for Clarke.

Important

"I have been told to just carry on game-by-game," he said.

"I am planning as normal until I get told anything else, I want to make clear the players have been fantastic after a sad start to the week."

One of the changes Downing made saw England international goalkeeper Ben Foster recalled to the starting line-up after four months out through injury and the coach was impressed with his performance.

An excellent double save in the second half denied Tom Huddlestone and Ahmed Elmohamady as Hull looked certain to double their advantage.

"It was a really important double save," Downing said.

"I must admit it was a tough choice with Boaz Myhill because he has done so well in recent months but Ben is a top quality keeper.

"He will be looking forward to the summer to see if he can stake a claim [for England's World Cup squad] and this is the start of his rehabilitation."

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