Promotions

West Bromwich Albion 0 : 2 Southampton

Ryan Fraser's coolly taken opener was his eighth goal of the season

Southampton bounced back superbly from the end of their long unbeaten run in midweek as they comfortably beat West Bromwich Albion to return to second in the Championship.

Just three nights after losing 3-1 at Bristol City, the Saints’ first defeat in 25 games, Russell Martin’s powerful, smoothly efficient side beat fifth-placed Albion with a neatly taken goal in each half from Ryan Fraser and David Brooks.

Admittedly, Albion were upset by the early loss of head coach Carlos Corberan, bizarrely red carded for making the human error of, unwittingly, trying to collect the ball from his technical area before it had gone out of play.

But, on a night when Corberan’s team were watched by prospective new American owner Shilen Patel, the hosts produced little to avoid only their fourth home league defeat in 31 games, in the 16 months since the Spaniard took charge.

Albion were certainly unsettled by the freak incident that earned Corberan an unexpected seat in the stand for ‘misconduct’ – and his second red card of the season – when he left his technical area to retrieve the ball, only to discover the ball had not actually gone out of play.

But Southampton striker Adam Armstrong had already been denied by keeper Alex Palmer on the edge of the box before Fraser’s 14th-minute volley put Saints ahead.

Stuart Armstrong curled over a chip to beyond the far post and the unmarked former Bournemouth and Newcastle winger had the time and space to steer home a neat volley with his right instep, which beat Palmer’s despairing dive to go inside the right upright.

In a better spell for the Baggies before the break, John Swift sent a powerful right-foot shot just wide before a desperate penalty shout when Darnell Furlong’s shot hit Jack Stephens, whose arm was up in self-defence.

Stephens then cleared off the line from Okay Yokuslu’s flicked header and Swift had a shot just over at the start of the second half.

But Albion could find nothing more, before the visitors closed the door 17 minutes from time to complete a season’s double over the Baggies.

Substitute Joe Aribo found Stuart Armstrong, who worked the ball out on the left to Sam Edozie – he slipped in fellow substitute Brooks and the Bournemouth loan man coolly diverted a low left-foot shot past Palmer.

Saints keeper Gavin Bazunu did have to make one late save, when he turned over Yokuslu’s free header – but the Baggies were long since beaten.

Who’s next?

Albion and Southampton are both back in action on Tuesday.

The Baggies head to Devon to face mid-table Plymouth Argyle, while Saints are at home to play-off hopefuls Hull City.

Corberan’s second dismissal of the season meant that he was again banned – under this season’s new Football Association directive – from doing his usual post-match media duties, as happened at Blackburn on the opening day of the season.

Albion defender Conor Townsend told:

“We’re disappointed to lose, having coming into this game on the back of some good form. But they are a good side.

“In the end, it looked comprehensive. We had turned the tide and were on top at the end of the first half, but we have to take our chances. We just can’t blame the referee for not giving the penalty.

“The second goal killed us and took the wind out of our sails. We gave the ball away and good teams punish you.

“But the new owners coming in has clearly breathed a new air of positivity into the club and we have to build on that. We’re still in a good position and on a decent run. On our day, we’re still a match for anyone in this league.”

Southampton manager Russell Martin:

“This was our best win of the season. Not many teams win here.

“The questions were asked of us to see how we responded [to Tuesday’s defeat at Bristol City] – and this was a big moment for us.

“Carlos Corberan is a fantastic coach. But he and I have both learned a new rule tonight.

“It seems a crazy one. He wasn’t trying to stop play intentionally. It’s nonsense really.”