West Brom’s long wait for a Premier League win finally ended as Brighton were beaten 2-0 at The Hawthorns.
Jonny Evans’ early header set Albion on their way to halting a 20-game run stretching back to August, with fellow defender Craig Dawson heading in a second goal at the start of the second half.
The result will also have been a weight off Alan Pardew’s shoulders as it gave him that elusive first league victory since he took over as manager nine matches ago at the start of December.
While it was not enough to lift West Brom out of the relegation zone, coming on the back of last weekend’s FA Cup win at Exeter Pardew will hope it further raises confidence with tough games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea coming up in the next month.
Meanwhile, Brighton’s woeful away form continues to see them slide down the table and Chris Hughton’s team are now just three points clear of the bottom three, four in front of West Brom, after a sixth successive goalless game on the road – a run which includes five defeats.
West Brom made the best possible start as Evans, who continues to be linked with Manchester City and Arsenal, scored after just four minutes. Matt Phillips’ driven cross from a corner was flicked on by Jay Rodriguez and Evans headed the ball in at the far post
With their noses in front, Pardew’s men looked assured as they zipped passes about and pressed high when they did not have possession.
The hosts maintained their good early spell with another couple of corners, again driven in by Phillips, one of which required a vital touch from Lewis Dunk to deny Evans the chance of another goal.
West Brom felt they should have had a penalty midway through the first half when a Phillips shot was blocked by Glenn Murray but the appeals were waved away by referee Martin Atkinson, who might now wish he had the luxury of VAR at his disposal as the Brighton striker’s arms were quite high.
Brighton looked a danger on the break and enjoyed their best spell as half-time approached, but a crucial block by Dawson deflected a Dunk shot over the crossbar.
At the other end, Dawson should have extended the lead but he poked an effort straight at goalkeeper Mat Ryan from close range.
He made amends after 55 minutes. Another driven corner, this time from Chris Brunt, was met at the far post by Dawson and his header into the ground bounced up and over Anthony Knockaert on the goal line and into the net.
Knockaert fired a shot over the crossbar when Brighton created a rare opening but Evans and Dawson, together with Ahmed Hegazi, at the back for West Brom were always in total control and the hosts saw out the game comfortably for a much-needed three points.
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