‘Back-to-back wins give West Brom hope and belief’ – Allardyceon April 12, 2021 at 9:20 pm

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Sam Allardyce says “people’s ears are starting to prick up” after West Brom make it back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season with victory over Southampton.

Matt Phillips scoring West Brom's second goal against Southampton

Two goals in three first-half minutes through Matheus Pereira and Matt Phillips put Allardyce’s men in control at the Hawthorns before Callum Robinson’s fine finish completed the Baggies’ biggest home win in the Premier League since November 2016.

“It is one of many top quality performances over the past eight or 10 games but we haven’t received the credit because we didn’t win,” Allardyce said. “We have missed out on many points due to our poor finishing.

“We have had two very important wins but unfortunately we have to rely on other people losing.

“But we are still fighting.”

The victory was made more admirable by the fact West Brom needed to rally after having what would have been an opening goal for Mbaye Diagne controversially ruled out for offside after video assistant referee Kevin Friend decided there was insufficient evidence to overturn the on-pitch decision, even though TV replays suggested otherwise.

Sam Johnstone completed an excellent evening for West Brom when he turned away James Ward-Prowse’s injury-time penalty.

West Brom are still in deep trouble, eight points adrift of fourth-bottom Newcastle with seven games remaining.

However, if they meet many more sides as accommodating as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton were in a dismal opening period, another of Allardyce’s great escapes cannot be discounted.

“It gives the players hope and belief,” added the former England boss.

“We have slipped up in front of goal too much. We would be on the 30-point mark now if we had taken our chances.

“We have got it down to eight points but games are running out.”

Baggies’ bounce

When they trailed 1-0 at Chelsea on 3 April, West Brom looked certain to complete a swift return to the Championship.

But after their incredible five goals at Stamford Bridge, Allardyce’s side continued their offensive bombardment at the Hawthorns.

West Brom had 13 of the first half’s 18 shots and with Pereira scheming and Diagne a major threat, they attacked with a conviction absent for most of the season.

Pereira earned the right to take the spot-kick after he had been brought down by Fraser Forster as he tried to step round the former England keeper.

Diagne may be having little fortune when it comes to scoring himself – but his cross for Phillips’ second, curling low to the far post after Danny Ings had gifted possession deep in the Southampton half – invited the first-time finish.

Although West Brom were more cautious after the interval, they still created chances and Robinson made it three goals in two games when he strode onto Okay Yokuslu’s pass midway through the second half.

Amazingly, of the 17 league goals West Brom have scored in 2021, eight of them have come in their last two games.

Allardyce added: “Now they are winning they are getting the praise they deserve but they have deserved that for many, many games.

“It’s not a big chance [of survival], just a hope that we keep winning and hope the other teams lose, that’s all we can do.”

In his programme notes, Allardyce mentioned that he said before the Chelsea game that his team needed six wins from their last nine games to have a chance of staying up. They have reduced that to four from seven.

If anyone knows how to attain survival from this position, it is Allardyce.

It has not been the greatest round of matches for VAR when it comes to trust.

By now, we are used to the way lines are used to determine who is onside and who is not. It is also commonplace for ultra-fine margins to decide whether goals should be given or not.

But after controversies involving Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United over the past three days, on this occasion, the technology was condemned for not being able to allow the officials to reach a conclusion.

With Kevin Friend and assistant Simon Beck trying and failing to decide whether Diagne’s upper body was offside, they went for the footballing equivalent of cricket’s ‘umpire’s call’, which felt unsatisfactory given the investment that has been made in the technology.

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