Transfer-listed Danny Dichio fired West Brom into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a stunning first-half hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Bradford at The Hawthorns.
The London-based Baggies forward, up for sale due to his reluctance to move closer to the Midlands, netted three times in the opening 19 minutes as the Premiership side heaped more misery on First Division strugglers Bradford, whose consolation came from Mark Danks.
Dichio's treble took his tally for the last seven games to six and offered Albion boss Gary Megson another reminder that he intends to fight for his place in the Albion line-up.
The Baggies were in front as early as the fifth minute. The Bantams defence allowed Adam Chambers far too much space down the right flank and the wing-back's cross for Dichio was inch perfect for a firm header into the back of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.
The visitors had little time to regroup before the former Sunderland front man was on hand to bag his second. This time the ball came from the left, with Dichio doing just enough to divert Ronnie Wallwork's cross into the far corner with a glancing header.
He was soon celebrating again. Jason Roberts this time was the provider, slipping a perfect ball into the overlapping Dichio's path and he made no mistake, firing the ball wide of keeper Aidan Davison.
Bradford were hardly in the game and drew ironic cheers from their own supporters when they mounted a rare attack and won a corner after 30 minutes.
It seemed only a matter of time before Albion would bag a fourth and it almost came when Andy Johnson broke clear, but screwed a 54th-minute shot wide.
Scott Dobie had an even better chance moments later, but somehow managed to sidefoot wide from a Neil Clement cross with the goal at his mercy.
However, it was Bradford who scored next as Danks managed to sneak in for a 78th-minute consolation. Claus Jorgensen curled in a shot from the left and Danks was the first to react as the ball bounced off the bar and into his path.
West Brom manager Gary Megson believes placing striker Daniele Dichio on the
transfer list has jolted the player into life.
Megson said: 'Sometimes you do things to get a response. Danny was not playing as well as he is now at the start of the season. We needed some way to give him a shake and he has responded really well.
'It's not just his goals, but his work-rate now is way higher than it was. The culmination of what's gone on in the past is that he is now playing like the centre forward we paid £1million for 12 months ago.'
As for whether Dichio will stay on the transfer list, Megson added: 'I've said before it's not a big deal. If anyone came in for him, and nobody has, it would be up to us what we would ask for him and we wouldn't sell him.'
Megson was pleased with his side's performance, particularly in the first half
as they put the game beyond the Bantams to secure their place in Monday's
Dichio netted his first two by heading home crosses from Adam Chambers and
Ronnie Wallwork and Megson was delighted that his gameplan had come off.
He added: 'It's just what we wanted. It was a good result. We did feel
crosses would put them under pressure and we'd been working all week on trying
to get the ball in there early.
'If Danny has got a strength it's that and his first two goals gave us a
platform then to win the game.'
Bradford's only consolation came in the form of a late header from Marc Danks
but boss Nicky Law put a brave face on the defeat.
Law said: 'I had to make changes today. Peter Atherton was suspended and I
couldn't play Andy Tod because he has played 24 games for us. If he plays one
more we owe Dunfermline #25,000.
'It is very frustrating. The sooner the clubs can come together and agree
some form of compromise the better it is for both clubs and the player.
'There have been talks but nothing has been sorted out yet. It's difficult
but it's something we have to live with. In the end we've lost the game on two crosses we failed to defend.
'Take them away and there is nothing between the two sides. Take Dichio and
Jason Roberts out and put them in our team and we would have won the game. It's easy to blame the centre-halves for not picking up Dichio but they were
two quality balls in.
'If you give players of good quality five yards they'll get crosses in. But
we changed things and I felt after 19 minutes we were the better team.'