West Brom ended a 20-match winless streak in the Premier League with victory over Brighton, thanks to goals from defenders Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson.
The unmarked Evans put the Baggies ahead early on when he arrived at the back post to head in Jay Rodriguez’s flick-on from a Matt Phillips corner.
The hosts added a second from another corner shortly after half-time when Dawson beat Gaeten Bong to Chris Brunt’s outswinger to head home powerfully.
The victory was Alan Pardew’s first in the league since he replaced Tony Pulis in charge at The Hawthorns at the end of November.
The only negative for the Baggies was an allegation made by Bong after a gesture from Rodriguez which will be included in the referee’s report to the Football Association.
After an argument with Bong, Rodriguez pinched his own nose, prompting an angry reaction from the Brighton defender.
Referee Martin Atkinson did not take any action on the pitch but made a note of the incident and consulted fourth official Tony Harrington.
Brighton only fleetingly threatened the West Brom goal as they made it six away league games without a goal.
Jose Izquierdo curled wide from the edge of the area in the first half, and Anthony Knockaert lifted a shot over after a well-worked move.
The Seagulls slip from 12th to 15th spot while West Brom remain in the relegation zone in 18th place, but are only two points behind 17th-placed Bournemouth.
Baggies taste victory – at last
Pardew earned his first win since succeeding Pulis when his side beat Exeter City in the FA Cup last weekend – although only 363 Baggies fans were there to see it.
There were many more present in the 25,240 crowd at The Hawthorns and a huge roar greeted the final whistle as Pardew celebrated a first league win.
It was a richly deserved three points as West Brom played the more positive attacking football and were defiant in defence against a side who will also be battling to avoid the drop.
Towards the end of the match Pardew had acted like a cheerleader, whipping up the home fans to give his players the energy to get over the line.
With back-to-back wins, in the cup and here, the Albion boss will feel there is finally some momentum building for his side following such a long run.
But if West Brom are to avoid relegation to the Championship, this must be a turning point in their season.
Evans essential to survival bid
West Brom captain Evans opened the scoring but it was the 29-year-old’s influential defensive display that was of a greater significance.
At the heart of the home defence, Evans gave a commanding performance as he marshalled the backline with a calm assurance.
The former Manchester United defender continues to be linked with a move to either Manchester City or Arsenal.
But a defiant “come on” roared by Evans after he scored gave a glimpse of the emotional attachment the Albion skipper has to his current club.
Pardew must do everything in his powers to persuade Evans to remain in the Black Country – West Brom’s Premier League status may depend on it.
Familiar tale for Brighton on the road
Brighton boss Chris Hughton has seen his side win only one of their past 12 games and it was familiar problems that cost them.
The Seagulls have struggled to defend set-pieces this season and twice they were punished for lapses in concentration.
West Brom’s early goal, in particular, was costly as Hughton’s plan to keep the game tight and pack midfield was ripped up.
At the other end of the pitch Brighton struggled for cutting edge in attack and the majority of their attempts were from long distance.
Undoubtedly the Seagulls’ hopes of survival will largely depend on their home form.
But Hughton’s side must be more solid at the back and clinical up front away from the Amex Stadium.
‘We got our rewards’ – reaction
West Brom boss Alan Pardew: “I have waited a long time to win a Premier League game here. We kept doing the right things and got our rewards.
“The players have responded well since we got in. We are a big side and good at set-plays but maybe lost that. So we focused on that this week.
“They were two well-executed goals from corners. We were also good in terms of stopping them playing.”
Brighton boss Chris Hughton: “It is hugely disappointing because there was not a lot between the two teams.
“We have worked hard on defending set-plays and the first goal really hurt us. If they don’t get that early goal we are really in it.
“We got into a lot of good areas but haven’t worked the goalkeeper enough. We have to be more productive in the final third.”
Man of the match – Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Brom)
Pardew continues record against Hughton – the stats
- Pardew picked up his first Premier League win in charge of West Brom, in what was the Baggies’ first win in the competition by more than one goal since March 2017 (3-1 v Arsenal).
- The Seagulls have won just one of their past 12 games in the Premier League (D5 L6), failing to score at all in eight of these fixtures.
- Hughton has not won any of his five games against teams managed by Pardew in the Premier League (D2 L3), managing just one goal across those meetings.
- Excluding penalties, Brighton have conceded more goals from set-pieces than any other team in the Premier League this season (16).
- Each of West Brom’s four goals at The Hawthorns under Pardew have come from set-pieces (three from corners and one from the penalty spot).
- Evans netted his second league goal of the season – only once previously has he scored more in a Premier League campaign (three in 2012-13 for Manchester United).
West Brom face the first instalment of back-to-back away to trips to Merseyside when they face Everton at Goodison Park next Saturday (15:00 GMT).
Brighton return to home comforts when they host Premier League champions Chelsea in the day’s early kick-off (12:30) at the Amex.