West Brom boss Darren Moore acknowledged the contributions of veteran Gareth Barry and youngster Rekeem Harper in the 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win at Aston Villa.
Promotion-chasing Albion clinched their victory with two goals in four minutes just before half-time which sent Villa spinning to a home defeat which may have ended their hopes of making the play-offs.
The two goals came from strikers Hal Robson-Kanu and Jay Rodriguez, who
recorded his 17th goal of the season and Moore said: “Getting three points on the road in this division is always rewarding.
“The hard work and commitment by the players was excellent and they deserved their victory.
“”I was aware it was an important game and that we had to be at our best to come away with a result.
“Gareth Barry brings a calmness and composure. He is not overawed by anything. His positional sense off the ball is excellent and you have to remember he is approaching 38 – it was an exceptional performance.
“On the other hand Rekeem Harper is a young player who is developing all the time. He has come through the academy and he is going to be a top player for us.
“He shows he has the ability to cope with this level and he can be really proud after this game.
“To score two goals at Villa is no mean feat, while to keep a clean sheet…there are not many teams who will achieve this at Villa Park.”
Commenting upon the enforced absence because of suspension of leading goalscorer Dwight Gayle, the Albion coach said: “We passed the audition at the start of the season when he was injured.
“Obviously we were disappointed to lose him because he is an important player but we will not cry over spilt milk. We have accepted it and we will move
Villa were rarely a threat with leading goalscorer Tammy Abraham generally well controlled by Craig Dawson, who enjoyed his best league game for several weeks.
The game was a genuine stalemate for the first 40 minutes, before exploding into life in the final five minutes of the first half.
The advancing Mason Holgate produced the cross from which Robson-Kanu was able to open the scoring with a header which dipped just below the bar.
Villa were stunned and the visitors increased their lead four minutes later when Rodriguez latched onto a ball which had bounced off Villa’s Conor Hourihane to score with rasping shot.
Villa boss Dean Smith said: “There was nothing in the game after we started brightly. If Tammy had taken his chance it would have been a totally different game.
“But we did not have enough quality to put enough balls into the box to score. I thought we became very frustrated.
“There were not many chances throughout the game but our quality in the final third is lacking.
“Obviously I am disappointed with the result. We huffed and puffed in the second half.
“Albion showed no ambition. They got behind the ball and tried to make it difficult for us, which they did.
“We put on Jonathan Kodjia for the last 25 minutes. We needed to get in some quality crosses and we didn’t do that as they defended their box.”
Smith denied that the long absence of talented midfielder Jack Grealish is the reason for their recent run of indifferent results.
He said: “We have had to manage without several class players this season, when we have had some good results.
“Hopefully Grealish will be back on the bench for the next match.” Smith’s men are at Stoke next Saturday.
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