The 1-0 victory gives the Baggies’ survival hopes a huge boost and Sam Allardyce’s side are now unbeaten in three games. Kyle Bartley’s header in the first half was enough to defeat Brighton, who missed two penalties in the game.
The win came with plenty of drama, with the Seagulls also having a goal disallowed in an extremely controversial fashion. Graham Potter’s side will be thinking about what they have done to deserve such horrid luck, but the result leaves them being sucked into the relegation battle.
Story of the Match
West Brom began the better side and dominated the game early on. Ainsley Maitland- Niles looked spritely and caused problems from the off, with a skillful run almost creating an opportunity for himself.
Soon after, the hosts took the lead. Conor Gallagher’s corner was headed in by Baggies captain Bartley and Allardyce’s side had a much-needed advantage.
However, hopes of a win were knocked on the 20-minute mark as Dan Burn’s header was blocked by the hand of new signing Okay Yokuslu, and a penalty was given after a VAR check. But Brighton failed to level it from the spot as Pascal Gross struck the crossbar, continuing Brighton’s goalscoring woes.
Half an hour into the game, it descended into madness. Lewis Dunk placed a free-kick into the bottom corner to level it after referee Lee Mason blew the whistle. However, Mason blew the whistle for a second time only seconds after, seemingly ruling out the goal for a retake.
The referee then walked over to his fourth official and appeared to award the goal, sparking mass frustration in the West Brom camp.
With both teams completely confused at the situation, a lengthy VAR check followed and proved that the second whistle from Mason was just before the ball had hit the back of the net, meaning that the free-kick was ordered to be retaken.
After the drama, there was not too much in terms of chances in the first half. Maitland-Niles should have done better in stoppage time and Sam Johnstone did really well to prevent Aaron Connolly leveling in the last attack of the half.
Almost straight after the break, Brighton had a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser. Connolly pounced on a rebound inside the six-yard box but somehow blasted his shot well over the bar.
Connolly then had another chance just before he was replaced by Danny Welbeck on the hour mark. He was denied by a superb last-ditch challenge from Yokuslu to keep the Baggies in the lead.
With 15 minutes left, the Seagulls got their best chance to level it. Connor Townsend brought down Gross in the area, giving Welbeck the opportunity to score from the spot. However, once again, the penalty struck the woodwork and bounced clear.
Brighton would somehow not find a goal and West Brom picked up a massive three points. The victory continues some positive momentum and maybe a key result in the Baggies' hopes of survival this season.
Human error or VAR?
Many people have criticised VAR since its arrival in football and some may say it was to blame at The Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon. But on this occasion, VAR did not seem to be the problem and basic human error was the cause of all the drama.
The situation was complex. Lee Mason blew the whistle to signal that the free-kick could be taken and Dunk obliged by tapping the ball into the net. However, Mason’s decision to blow the whistle again after the ball had been kicked caused pandemonium amongst the players. It was judged to have been a whistle to prevent the free-kick from being taken as the goalkeeper wasn’t ready.
The referee ordered the retake but then gave the goal which caused the main bulk of the confusion and shock on the pitch. This was down to the referee and his decision, with VAR only used to find out whether the second whistle had been blown before the ball had crossed the line.
It was harsh on Brighton, whose luck was not on their side on Saturday, but in this case, the correct decision was made thanks to VAR, and Mason’s error and misjudgment were the cause of the controversy.