ROVERS 1 WEST BROM 0 Bent 47 GRAEME Souness raised a few eyebrows when he took a gamble on Celtic outcast Eyal Berkovic.

But those doubting his wisdom are starting to gulp down the humble pie after the little Israeli took Rovers a step nearer the Premiership with another priceless contribution in this First Division promotion battle.

Marcus Bent may have grabbed the headlines after smashing home his third crucial strike in the space of three games to put a huge dent in West Brom's automatic promotion prospects.

But the former Sheffield United ace was in no doubt as to who deserved the plaudits after a moment of magic from Berkovic finally put paid to stubborn Albion.

Egil Ostenstad at Southampton, John Hartson at West Ham and Mark Viduka at Celtic have all benefited from the pint-sized playmaker's silver service in the past.

And now Bent can be added to that list after the deadly duo repeated the trick which shot down Watford a fortnight ago.

"Eyal's gifted me two goals in the last two weeks so he's done really well since he came in," said Bent.

"You can see in training that he's great on the ball, he's good at working with forwards, and he'll create goals for us.

"So, if he can take that from training into games, then we can only get better.

"He might not be great on the defensive side but he more than makes up for it going forward.

"And as long as he keeps that going then, hopefully, we'll keep winning games."

After Birmingham's win over Watford on Friday night, both managers knew how important a victory was here in the race for second spot.

Yet, bizarrely, Megson decided to leave club record signing Jason Roberts on the bench as he attempted to bore Rovers into submission. There was nothing sophisticated about the gameplan. Albion strung five across the middle in a bid to stifle Rovers in midfield with veteran striker Bob Taylor used as a battering ram up front.

But Megson's plan failed to take into account the creative genius of the little Israeli.

With his national boss Richard Moller Nielsen an interested observer in the stand, Berkovic was keen to impress on his home debut.

And at times, he looked a class above his team-mates as he threaded a couple of killer balls through a stubborn Albion defence.

Some of his passing was radar-like and his vision in midfield provided a whole new dimension. However, Rovers missed the gritty qualities of suspended skipper Garry Flitcroft as Albion attempted to flex their muscle in the engine room.

That said, they could have made a dream start after just 45 seconds when the lively Bent crossed for Damien Duff but the young Irishman scuffed his shot straight to Russell Hoult.

Then, David Dunn cut in from the right and let fly from the edge of the box but Hoult was there again to block his stinging drive.

But it was Bent who missed the best chance of the half when he headed wide from Duff's pinpoint centre.

Thankfully, he made amends, however, when Rovers finally broke the deadlock two minutes after the break.

Berkovic was the architect as he swapped passes with Dunn on the right before pulling the ball back for Bent to smash home from eight yards.

Rovers visibly grew in confidence after that as they poured forward in search of a second.

Alan Mahon drew a brilliant save from Hoult, Dunn fired over when it looked easier to score, and Bent's touch let him down when he raced onto a through ball from Gillespie.

But they nearly paid a heavy price for those misses when Taylor latched onto a knock down from Tony Butler but completely mis-hit his shot with the goal at his mercy.

However, that was the closest Albion got and Hoult had to come to their rescue again in the last minute with a brave block to deny Duff after he had wriggled past two defenders.

"It was very hard to play football but the result was more important than the quality of the game," said Berkovic.

"We need to get out of the Division as quickly as we can and this result will maybe help us to do that.

"We've got a good young team full of talented players but we've got to work hard to get anything on days like today.

"I believe, however, it will be easier for us to play in the Premier League because there's more quality there and we've got quality in our team." He might not be great on the defensive side but he more than makes up for it going forward.