After two successive defeats, West Brom got back to winning ways thanks to a Peter Odemwingie brace in a 2-0 victory over Southampton at The Hawthorns, a result that lifts the Baggies into fifth place in the Premier League.
Odemwingie was excellent on the night and although there was some controversy in his first as he may have handled in the build-up, he capped a fine performance with a second early in the second half.
Southampton battled well for their part and will feel a little aggrieved at not getting the rub of the green: they also hit the bar and were denied an excellent penalty claim. But the Saints stay rock bottom of the table with 28 goals now conceded, the worst return in Premier League history at this stage of the season.
The match took some time to get going, neither keeper having a save to make in anger for the first quarter of an hour, before Rickie Lambert smashed a half volley straight at Ben Foster.
The hosts, employing an attacking 4-3-2-1 began to create the better chances midway through the half. A constant danger cutting in from the right, Odemwingie cut inside Danny Fox and unleashed a shot that Jonas Olsson deflected over with his header.
Adam Lallana was invariably at the heart of Saints’ best attacking moves and following a loose clearance he nipped the ball past Billy Jones to whip in a dangerous cross just beyond the far post. Sadly for Saints fans, nobody else gambled on making a run. And moments later, following more good work from Lallana, Lambert could not get enough power into his header and a relieved Foster did not have to move in making a simple save.
From the resultant goal kick Odemwingie again threatened the Southampton goal, shooting just wide of Paulo Gazzaniga’s post. And five minutes later, Odemwingie’s perseverance was rewarded, his shot from the edge of the box taking a slight deflection off Maya Yoshida before rippling the back of Gazzaniga’s net.
The visitors felt aggrieved and perhaps rightly so as replays suggested that Odemwingie may have used his left arm to control the ball in the build-up to the goal. But Morgan Schneiderlin really should have done much better to close down the shot.
A sheepish Odemwingie came out for the second half patting his arm just below the shoulder, perhaps insinuating that it was a little high to be handball.
Southampton came out all guns blazing and were almost level within minutes. Jay Rodriguez did well to engineer a cross into Lambert and his first-time shot cannoned back off the bar. Minutes later Foster had to be alert to race out and get to the ball just ahead of Rodriguez from Nathaniel Clyne’s excellent pass.
With Saints fans still bemoaning their misfortune, Odemwingie hit them with a second, stealing between the centre-backs to head home from Shane Long’s cross. It could and perhaps should have been three with a little over 10 minutes remaining, substitute Chris Brunt volleying just wide from Youssouf Mulumbu’s cross.
Southampton showed spirit to fight to the end and should have had a penalty when Olsson bundled over Lallana. And Lallana himself was denied by Foster in added time, the keeper coming off his line to smother well.
Man of the match
Peter Odemwingie - West Brom: Despite some doubt over his first, was a constant threat from the word go and capped a fine performance with a deserved second.
West Brom: Foster 6, Jones 7, McAuley 6, Olsson 6, Ridgewell 6, Mulumbu 7, Yacob 6, Odemwingie 8, Gera 6, Dorrans 6, Long 6. Subs: Brunt 6, Lukaku 6, Fortune 6
Southampton: Gazzaniga 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 6, Yoshida 6, Fox 6, Schneiderlin 5, S Davis 6, Lallana 6, Ramirez 6, Lambert 7, Rodriguez 7. Subs: Guly 6, Shaw 6, Mayuka 6.