Grant hits winner as Albion beat Blues

by 24britishtvOct. 15, 2021, 11:01 p.m. 32
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Last updated on .From the section Championship

By Ged Scott BBC Sport at The Hawthorns

Karlan Grant scored the only goal of the game as West Bromwich Albion ground out a West Midlands derby win over Birmingham City to move top of the Championship.

Defeat leaves Lee Bowyer's City with only one point - and no goals - from their past five games.

The first West Midlands derby to be played in front of a crowd since the Covid-19 pandemic generated a tremendous atmosphere inside The Hawthorns - but it quickly evaporated as the hosts struggled against a well-marshalled, rejigged Blues defence.

However, it took the game's one moment of genuine individual brilliance from Grant - the Albion striker's fifth goal in as many games - to settle it.
• None Relive West Brom's win over Birmingham as it happened

Chances were thin on the ground, especially in the first half when the only meaningful effort on target was full-back Conor Townsend's left-foot piledriver which was tipped over the bar by Blues goalkeeper Matija Sarkic.

Birmingham, who had chosen to leave captain Harlee Dean on the bench to tighten their defence, brightened after the break at the other end, going close three times.

Scott Hogan just failed to connect from second-half substitute Jeremie Bela's right-wing cross.

Hogan then turned Semi Ajayi to get to the left byeline and pulled the ball back but Ivan Sunjic was leaning back and his shot clipped the bar.

Striker Hogan then ballooned over on the half-volley from Marc Roberts' long throw-in.

But the Baggies, beaten by a late goal at Stoke in their last game before the international break, had that bit of quality when it mattered most, Grant cutting in from the left and finding space to fire a low shot past Serkic from just outside the box.

Blues have now won just once in their past 10 away league visits to The Hawthorns - and have gone five games in a row without scoring for the first time since 2005.

Both sides are back in action on Wednesday night when Val Ismael's Albion visit Swansea and Bowyer's Blues travel to Huddersfield.

"Three points, a clean sheet, and a good goal for Karlan Grant. A lot of positives to take.

"When you saw the statistic that they had conceded 12 goals in their last five games you knew something would change.

"It was a difficult game. But It was important that we stayed calm. We know we can score at any time - and it came."

"I can't fault the work ethic. We performed well as a group, looked solid and limited them to very little, mostly from distance.

"My only disappointment was the goal. We should have defended better. It was one lapse of concentration.

"But we can't carry on missing chances. I think once we get one, they'll start to go in."

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