West Bromwich Albion 2 - Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Going into the match it really felt like this was last chance saloon time.
On seeing the starting 11 I was pleased enough - it had good balance and attacking intent and I think the big call was Greg in the centre over other options.
The concern to me was the bench. Given our situation if we were not winning with 20 to go it was kitchen sink time so I was really disappointed that Field, Burke or even Leko didn't make it. I think Pardew has decided that the kids will play no part in a relegation scrap and is throwing his complete faith in the senior pros. I'm not sure I agree with him.
We started like the clappers (sorry) and earned 2 corners in quick succession, the second of which worked to perfection straight off the (face)Palm training ground with a great delivery, a JRod flick on the front post and Evans guiding it home at the back post.
I've read many comments about Evans but I think he's been superb and a great pro. He's good enough to go to City and win 3 or 4 trophies this year but I don't think his standards have ever dropped - and he celebrated the goal like it was a last minute winner in a cup final.
The start eased the pressure for us and we had a decent half without being fully in control. We let Brighton get the wrong side of our midfield a few times but recovered well and we played some decent stuff.
Our right hand side was most productive and Phillips was a constant threat, however it was Dawson who broke through with our best chance of the half after good work from Barry and Rondon but his first touch set up a 50-50 with the keeper and he fluffed it. Following that we saw the half out well.
2nd half Brighton began by going long at every opportunity but we mostly dealt with it and, via another set play, Dawson headed the ball down with enough venom that the bounce, the keeper and the man on the line were not enough to keep it out.
Brunt's delivery for that goal was as good as you will ever see - hard, flat and inch perfect.
From there on in we toiled well, created some decent chances and might have won with mor goals.
I think we did wobble on about 70 minutes when we started to look leggy but the fresh legs and slight change in system to 4-5-1 gave us a more solid look. when the excellent Daws and Hegazi fought eachother to head a dangerous cross away and clashed heads I feared the worst but they managed to soldier on enough for us to close the game out - with Nyom and GMac doing the job for the last 13 minutes in place of Daws and Evans.
I think we've played much better in the last 20 games and lost or drawn and the irony of us winning in such a Pulis-esque way wont be lost on anyone, but the manner of the performance was nothing like a Pulis team.
There were some great performances to give us hope and critically we managed to get enough quality on the pitch to make the difference.
It gives us a bit of hope but with Chadli and Morrison unavailable for another 5 weeks we have to get a creative player in if we are not going to trust the kids. From the outside it looks like we'll only spend money if Evans goes - but for the fee we get for him are we going to get players who will result in a net gain to our points tally with him no longer there?
I thought all the subs came in and did a solid job.
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