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Five Things: West Bromwich Albion

By Kieran Cleeves • 14 January 2018

Brighton & Hove Albion were beaten 2-0 by West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon, and here are five things we learned from the game.

Wait over for Baldock

Sam Baldock came off the bench to make his first-ever Premier League appearance. The striker reached the Premier League with West Ham United earlier in his career but never made an appearances for the Hammers, but his long wait finally came to an end when he emerged from the dugout to replace Pascal Gross after 66 minutes. Baldock made an instant impact as he controlled the ball inside West Brom’s penalty area and found Glenn Murray in space, but Anthony Knockaert’s shot from the striker’s lay-off rose over the crossbar. Baldock could now play a big role in Albion’s battle to avoid relegation.

A Propper rest

Davy Propper’s run of playing every minute of Premier League football for the Seagulls this season came to an end when the Dutchman was replaced by Beram Kayal in the 76th minute. The central midfielder has formed a good relationship with Dale Stephens in the middle of the park this season, but Albion’s squad could be stretched further in the closing period of the Premier League season, and Kayal will be keen to either force his way into the starting line-up or join Albion’s midfield pairing.

Hawthorns return

It proved to be a losing return to the Hawthorns for the Seagulls, with their last visit coming back in April 1993. Despite winning the first-ever meeting between the teams at the Baggies’ home ground, Albion have not won at the Hawthorns since. Over 2,500 Albion supporters made their way to the West Midlands, and it would have been the first visit to the stadium for many of the club’s loyal supporters.

Level crossing

There was plenty of attacking action on the wings for both teams at the Hawthorns, with 22 crosses apiece as the battle of the Albions took place for the second time in the Premier League this season. With Glenn Murray and Salomon Rondon looking to provide an aerial threat in opposing penalty areas, both teams made a conscious effort to deliver crosses from the flank. Of course, the Baggies were able to convert from two of their crosses, and that proved the difference, as Alan Pardew’s team ran out 2-0 winners.

Closed the gap

Albion’s defeat tightened the battle against relegation at the bottom end of the Premier League table, with the Baggies closing the gap on the Seagulls to four points. After Saturday’s league fixtures concluded, the Seagulls were left in 15th position. Hughton’s side will come up against three of the remaining five teams beneath them - Swansea City, Stoke City and Southampton - in the coming weeks.

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