Thu, Dec 04, 2014 - Page 19 News List

West Brom coach Irvine under pressure after loss

AFP, WEST BROMWICH, England

The threat to West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine’s position worsened on Tuesday as West Ham United came from a goal down to win 2-1 and leave their opponents just above the relegation zone with one win in their past eight English Premier League matches.

The Hammers — whose goals came from Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins — by contrast are in fifth place having made their best ever start to a Premier League campaign and have lost just once in their past eight league games.

West Brom — whose woeful home form has seen them record just three wins in their past 22 games at The Hawthorns — broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the game when Craig Dawson rose to head home Graham Dorrans free-kick and become the first player from his side to score in the Premier League in five matches.

The hosts — who went into the game having not lost to the Hammers in their past four meetings — dominated the opening 15 minutes, but then the Londoners began to force their way back into the game.

They were prevented from leveling thanks to Ben Foster’s alertness in goal, first blocking Nolan’s shot and then getting down to save Cheikhou Kouyate’s followup.

Nolan, though, was not to be denied 10 minutes from the break as the former Newcastle United midfielder tucked the ball home after Foster had saved from Andy Carroll.

The visitors had all the momentum and it was no surprise when they took the lead. Tomkins popped up to get on the end of Stewart Downing’s cross and head into the net from close range right on the stroke of halftime.

Dawson, who had been out jumped by Tomkins for the goal, had a great chance to restore parity early in the second half. He was allowed to go forward with the ball and with no one coming to challenge him and a clear sight of goal he let fly, only for his shot to go well wide.

Irvine changed things round with about 20 minutes remaining, sending on Portugal international striker Silvestre Varela for his first taste of Premier League action since arriving on loan from Porto.

Irvine then sent on another striker in the shape of Brown Ideye, but it was another striker, Victor Anichebe, who almost grabbed a point shortly after Ideye’s introduction, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Adrian.

In Tuesday’s other matches, Swansea City manager Garry Monk hailed his side’s 2-0 victory at home to Queens Park Rangers as their “most complete performance” of the season.

The struggling Londoners held the Welsh club for 78 minutes, only for late strikes from Ki Sung-yueng and Wayne Routledge to send Monk’s side back into the top six.

It was only Ki’s second goal for Swansea and the South Korea midfielder’s first goal at the Liberty Stadium since he joined from Celtic in 2012.

Christian Benteke marked his return from suspension by scoring his first goal of the season as Aston Villa ended their nine-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory away to Crystal Palace.

The victory saw the Birmingham club move above Palace into 12th place, with Paul Lambert’s side now five points clear of the relegation zone following the success.

Belgian striker Benteke, back following a three-game ban for a red card against Tottenham Hotspur, broke the deadlock in 32nd minute at Selhurst Park when he dispossessed Palace defender Scott Dann and then surged forward before beating Eagles goalkeeper Julian Speroni with a shot into the corner.

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