A first win on the road for Albion since 4th December, the last time that Taylor Gardner-Hickman started in midfield, brings to an end a run of six successive away defeats and gives Steve Bruce his first win as Baggies boss at the expense of one of his former clubs.
Karlan Grant’s eleventh and twelfth goals of the season were enough to secure the points as Albion scored in both halves of an away game for the first time since the 4-0 win at Cardiff City in late September. The former Huddersfield Town striker leads the Baggies goalscoring table this season with 12 goals, and also leads on the goals per game statistics with a figure of 0.40. Surprisingly, second in that particular metric is Dara O’Shea having scored twice in his eight appearances this season, from just four attempts, averaging 0.31 goals per 90 minutes.
With Preston North End and Millwall also winning, Albion remain in 13th place but the gap to the top six has reduced to six points. A faint hope perhaps, but there are still six teams between the Baggies and the top six as well as six points, and just eleven games remaining.
One of the most famous late runs to the play-offs was by Crystal Palace in 2004 under Iain Dowie – they had 51 points from 35 games, two more than Albion do now, and sat in 10th place. They actually lost two of their next three but won six of their last eight games to claim sixth spot with 73 points despite losing their last match of the regular season. They beat Sunderland and West Ham in the play-offs to claim their place in the Premier League and, a few months later, beat Albion 3-0 in Gary Megson’s last game as Baggies boss. Obviously, the Baggies had the last laugh in May when they completed the Great Escape at Palace’s expense.
Albion need 24 points from 11 games to match Palace’s total of 73 points, just below the average of 74.1 points needed for a second tier play-off spot this century. As a comparison, at the same stage in 2004, Ipswich Town were in sixth spot with 53 points from 34 games compared to Middlesbrough who have 55 points from 34 in this campaign – Albion’s task may be a little bit tougher.
|* Positions are recorded as Albion’s position in the table after all fixtures for that day have been completed.|
|2000/2001||03/03/2001||Blackburn Rovers (A)||L||0-1|
|2001/2002||23/02/2002||Portsmouth (H)||W||5-0||Roberts (2), Sigurðsson, Dobie, Bališ|
|2003/2004||06/03/2004||Coventry City (H)||W||3-0||Hughes, Hulse, Kinsella|
|2006/2007||24/02/2007||Leicester City (A)||D||1-1||Kamara (pen)|
|2007/2008||04/03/2008||Sheffield Wednesday (A)||W||1-0||Phillips|
|2009/2010||09/03/2010||Sheffield Wednesday (H)||W||1-0||Koren|
|2018/2019||01/03/2019||Leeds United (A)||L||0-4|
|2019/2020||25/02/2020||Preston North End (H)||W||2-0||Robson-Kanu, Livermore|
|2021/2022||05/03/2022||Hull City (A)||W||2-0||Grant (2, 1 pen)|
|2000/2001||06/03/2001||Norwich City (A)||W||1-0||Hughes (pen)|
|2001/2002||26/02/2002||Preston North End (A)||L||0-1|
|2003/2004||13/03/2004||Crewe Alexandra (A)||W||2-1||Johnson, Hughes|
|2007/2008||12/03/2008||Crystal Palace (H)||D||1-1||Phillips|
|2009/2010||13/03/2010||Blackpool (H)||W||3-2||Miller, Koren, Dorrans (pen)|
|2018/2019||09/03/2019||Ipswich Town (H)||D||1-1||Johansen|
|2019/2020||29/02/2020||Wigan Athletic (H)||L||0-1|
|2021/2022||11/03/2022||Huddersfield Town (H)|