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Football: LONG-DISTANCE DANNY PULLS HAT-TRICK OUT THE BAGGIES; West Brom 3 Bradford 1.

Byline: Ian EDWARDS

BAD-BOY Danny Dichio showed Gary Megson home is where the heart is - but will remain for sale at West Brom.

Transfer-listed Dichio answered Megson's criticisms in the perfect way with a 19 minute hat-trick which crushed First Division Bradford City and lifted the gloom at the Hawthorns.

But his magnificent display has done little to alter the stance of manager Megson or end the running feud between the pair over Dichio's refusal to move his family from London to the Midlands.

Megson has been delighted with the impact made by the striker since he was listed earlier in the season for his poor attitude and he insists he has no plans to sell the rejuvenated hitman.

The kick up the backside for the former Sampdoria man has certainly had a huge effect and Megson is refusing to relent to ensure that he keeps his frontman on his toes, until he changes his living arrangements.

"Danny's situation is not a big deal and if anyone comes in for him, and no one has, it is up to us and what we would want for him," said Megson.

"We would not sell him, but sometimes things have to be done to get a response and it has worked. He has responded very well, not just with goals, but with his overall work rate."

There must be something comfortable about Jason Roberts sofa in his flat in Stratford Upon Avon, where Dichio lodges for two days before matches.

It certainly seems to be working perfectly for the pounds 1.25m signing from Sunderland who has grabbed all his goals this season at the Hawthorns.

He maintained his magnificent record of scoring in Albion's previous three home games to kill off any hopes Nicky Law was harbouring of a shock cup upset.

Dichio made the most of some horrific defending by the visitors to double his tally for the season in a humiliating first half burst from Albion as they executed their game plan to perfection.

"We had been working all week on getting crosses in early because we felt that was where we would win the game," said Megson.

"They are not the tallest side and if Danny can do anything it is to make the most of good balls into the box."

Dichio brought back memories of legend Tony "Bomber" Brown, the last Albion player to score an FA Cup hat-trick way back in 1974, as he headed in crosses from Adam Chambers and Jason Koumas from opposite flanks.

Bradford boss Law had been told he could not play striker Andy Tod because one more appearance would mean a pounds 25,000 payment to Dunfermline, the club they signed him from 12 months ago.

Dichio added his third - thanks to some unselfish work from his landlord Roberts - leaving cash-strapped Law moaning: "Apart from the 19 minutes we were as good as them.

"If we had had Roberts and Dichio we would have won the game, but we were made to pay for not defending two crosses and we could never get back from that.

"I only had 16 fit players and had to put three youth team kids on the bench. I was told to leave out Tod because we can't afford him to play another game for us."

Even the late effort from substitute Mark Danks was little consolation for Law as Albion were already looking forward to Monday afternoon's draw for the Fourth Round and they face a long hard fight against relegation.

Albion are in a similar position in the Premiership and Megson would happily have swapped victory for three precious survival points. But this could still prove the catalyst for the club in their attempts to climb away from the relegation zone.

Last season's battle to the quarter finals for the first time in 20 years did little to affect their promotion charge from Division One - but it will be put to the sternest test next weekend against Manchester United.

WBA: Hoult 6 - Sigurdsson 6, Moore 7, Gregan 7 (Gilchrist 46, 6) - Chambers 7, Wallwork 7 (Balis 84), Koumas 6, Johnson 7, Clement 6 - Roberts 7 (Dobie 46, 6) *DICHIO 9.

BRADFORD CITY: *DAVIDSON 6 - Uhlenbeek 5, Molenaar 4, Bower 4, Jacobs 4 - Standing 5, Francis 5, Jorgensen 5, Emanuel 5 - Juanjo 3 (Danks 55, 5), Gray 4. Ref: D Elleray 7.

CAPTION(S):

JUMP TWO IT: Dichio scores in two minutes; Pictures: CENTREPIX; THREESY: Dichio's third
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2003
Words:742
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