Sam Allardyce claimed his first win as manager of West Bromwich Albion who are now five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.
The match took multiple twists and turns with West Brom taking the lead, falling behind, and then regaining the lead again all before the hour mark, as the first Black Country derby for almost nine years certainly didn’t disappoint.
Claiming only their second win of the season, it provides fresh hopes for West Brom who scored three Premier League away goals for the first time since December 2013, as they drew to West Ham United who were managed by none other than Sam Allardyce.
Matheus Pereira put the visitors in front from the penalty spot after just eight minutes as Willy Boly was clumsy and fouled Callum Robinson marginally inside the box, and the Brazilian midfielder stepped up to score his first Premier League goal since September.
Falling behind is becoming an extremely concerning issue for Wolves as they conceded first for the ninth straight Premier League match, and they are now without a clean sheet in 12 successive league games.
However, Wolves grew as the first half rolled on and struck twice towards the end of the first period to completely change the complexion of the game, and Nuno Espirito Santo’s half-time team talk.
Record signing Fabio Silva scored his first Premier League goal from open play as Boly backheeled he ball into the path of the teenager, who finished neatly into the far corner to equalise after 38 minutes.
Boly completely made amends for giving away the earlier penalty just five minutes later as the defender was first to react to a loose ball in the West Brom area and comfortably side footed the home side in front just two minutes before half time.
Boly’s hectic first half involvement meant he became the first Wolves player to give away a penalty, score and assist a goal in the same Premier League game since 2011, when Adlene Guedioura achieved the exact same feat, also against West Brom at Molineux.
Although Wolves went into the break rejuvenated and relieved, they came out poorly and found themselves behind within 11 minutes of the restart to a side that had only managed 11 goals in the 17 games prior to this match.
Semi Ajayi headed West Brom back on level terms as he looped his effort over a helpless Rui Patricio to score for the second time since Allardyce took charge and Callum Robinson was again fouled inside the area four minutes later to concede another penalty.
This time the culprit was Conor Coady, and Pereira took full advantage putting his side ahead from 12 yards just like he did in the first half to double his tally and add to Wolves’ woes.
Wolves pushed and continued to apply the pressure as they searched desperately for a route back into the game, but their sloppy starts to both halves cost them and they extended their awful run of form since main striker Raul Jimenez fractured his skull at the end of November.
Wolves registered 23 shots throughout the game but barely threatened reserve goalkeeper David Button, and with no one seemingly able to fill the void during the Mexican forward’s absence, things could get worse for Wolves with difficult fixtures against Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester all on the horizon.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have only taken five points from a possible 27 during their last nine games and find themselves in 14th place with all teams below them in the table having games in hand with the exception of Brighton.
Despite the incredible job that Espirito Santo has done since earning promotion from the Championship and recording back to back seventh place finishes, the pressure on the Wolves boss has mounted due to recent results and this was highlighted as Conor Coady was substituted 19 minutes into the second half.
The Wolves captain has never been substituted by Espirito Santo since their return to the Premier League, but he took off the central defender for the first time in 94 starts as he tampered with his squad in an attempt to salvage at least a point.
Avoiding defeat to Wolves is something that Allardyce will be used to, as the West Brom manager has never lost a Premier League game to the Midlands side during his career.
Allardyce has faced Wolves seven times in all competitions as manager, and has been victorious five times, only drawing twice to the team he supported growing up in Dudley.
West Brom sat on just seven points after 14 games before Slaven Bilic was relieved of his duties, and Allardyce was brought in to rescue their season and ensure the club weren’t relegated, something the new boss has never experienced during his managerial career.
Allardyce earned promotion to the Premier League with Bolton Wanderers back in 2001 and kept them up for the six successive seasons’ that followed before he departed for Newcastle United.
Following a brief stint on Tyneside, Allardyce returned to save Blackburn Rovers during the 2008/09 season and since has guided West Ham, Crystal Palace and most recently Sunderland to safety to maintain an incredible record of never being relegated from the Premier League.
There is still a lot of work to do, with West Brom having by far the worst goal difference in the division and with the side lacking a clinical centre forward. However, with the January transfer window open there is plenty of time for Allardyce to tinker with his squad.
As we approach the halfway point in the season, West Brom are still 29 points behind the 40 point average most clubs aim for to avoid the drop, meaning Allardyce will have to average 1.45 points per game between now and the end of the season to keep his prestigious record intact.