Win down to Balis

Monday 2 September 2002

West Brom manager Gary Megson attributed the club's first win of the season to Igor Balis' decision to play despite the tragic death of his mother last Thursday.

The Baggies won their first Premiership points with a 1-0 victory over Fulham thanks to defender Darren Moore's second-half goal, which lifted Albion off the foot of the table.

Balis was made captain for the day and his team-mates insisted on wearing black armbands in support.

"We said to Igor on Thursday that he could go home immediately," said Megson.

"He didn't want to. He wanted to stay and play in the game.

"We questioned him and questioned him again if that was what he really wanted to do.

"The players wanted to wear black armbands for Igor's mother and it underlines the spirit and the togetherness which is among the players."

If Moore scored the vital goal, then the victory was also orchestrated by club-record £2.5m signing Lee Hughes, whose link-up play with livewire striker Jason Roberts was superb.

"Lee Hughes came in as if he had never been away," said Megson.

"His work rate is great and he caused them a lot of problems."

Fulham manager Jean Tigana put his side's lacklustre performance down to tiredness after their midweek exertions in the Intertoto Cup.

But he insisted that the defeat had nothing to do with the fact that his current contract expires shortly after the end of the season.

"It is not a problem for me," said Tigana who flies back to France next week for an operation on a long-standing ankle injury.

"I keep my focus all the time. I prefer to talk with the chairman at the end of the season.

"Last year Arsene Wenger waited a long time before he signed.

"I think the side were tired today. We never had any chances until the last 20 minutes."