Odemwingie double fires Albion to fifthALBION used bonfire night to rocket up to fifth spot thanks to goals either side of the break from Peter Odemwingie – his first strikes from open play this term.
The Baggies’ top scorer for the past two seasons broke the deadlock with a 36th-minute shot which took a slight deflection off Southampton centre-half Maya Yoshida.
And he doubled Albion’s lead on the hour-mark when he headed home Shane Long’s sublime centre.
Steve Clarke’s side were never quite at their fluent best but were still more than worthy winners as they inflicted a sixth successive away league defeat on the Barclays Premier League’s bottom club.
Albion’s fifth home win in six games was lapped up by the packed home sections, who took full advantage of the club’s reduced ticket offer.
Ninth entertained 20th at The Hawthorns in front of the live Sky Sports cameras as both sides tried to end a run of two successive defeats.
Clarke made three changes as fit-again duo Claudio Yacob and Billy Jones, plus Long, who shook off a hamstring problem, were recalled in place of the injured James Morrison and benched duo Gabriel Tamas and Romelu Lukaku.
There was good news on the bench as club skipper Chris Brunt featured for the first time since suffering a hamstring strain at Villa Park in September.
Albion’s players showed their support for Kick It Out before kick-off by warming up in ‘One Game, One Community’ t-shirts.
Silence descended upon the stadium before the game got underway as a minute’s tribute was impeccably observed in memory of those who have lost their lives while serving their country. Albion’s players also wore poppies on their shirts in support of this year’s Poppy Appeal.
The open exchanges were scrappy and yet still entertaining, with neither team afraid to push men forward.
With less than two minutes on the clock, it took a great last-ditch challenge from Jose Fonte to deny Long a clear sight of goal from Odemwingie’s through-ball.
Saints enjoyed some possession around the Albion box although Gaston Ramirez could only fire an inviting free-kick straight into the Baggies’ wall on 13.
Four minutes later, though, the visitors went much closer. The ball broke neatly for Rickie Lambert 15 yards out and Ben Foster did well to clutch his acute low drive at his near post.
However, it was Albion who should have been ahead on 20. Odemwingie’s mis-hit shot from the edge of the box turned into the perfect pass for Zoltan Gera, who directed his six-yard snapshot over.
It was Long’s turn to be wasteful moments later when, after terrific work by Youssouf Mulumbu, the former Reading man skied an inviting 15-yard opening.
The Baggies were getting on top and Yacob was the next to try his luck, although he was off target with a 20-yarder.
On 26, Morgan Schneiderlin beat Long to Jonas Olsson’s header from Graham Dorrans’ free-kick in the nick of time inside the Saints’ six-yard box. From the ensuing corner, Southampton keeper Paulo Gazzaniga was called into evasive action to prevent Gera’s flag-kick curling straight in.
Saints enjoyed some respite on the half-hour mark and Lambert should have done much better with a terrific chance from Ramirez’s centre but could only head straight at Foster.
From the Albion No.1’s immediate throw, Odemwingie charged at the Southampton defence and saw a fierce 25-yard drive creep just wide of the right-hand post.
However, the goal Albion had largely been threatening arrived in the 36th minute. Gera and Mulumbu combined to set up Odemwingie on the edge of the Saints box and his left-foot rocket deflected off Yoshida and past the wrong-footed Gazzaniga, who palmed the ball into his own net.
Deflections off Yoshida had suddenly become the order of the evening as Mulumbu saw a 25-yard volley clip the Saints defender, although this time the ball was diverted wide of the goal.
Albion really turned the screw as the half drew to a close and might have added a second.
It took a terrific point-blank save from Gazzaniga to deny Long after the striker had collected Odemwingie’s cross-field pass and out-muscled Fonte. The rebound flew to Odemwingie whose goalbound effort was deflected wide by Schneiderlin.
There was still time for Odemwingie to direct a fierce 18-yard effort just wide of the near post.
Albion endured a huge slice of misfortune AND fortune in the same instance three minutes after the break. Olsson was mightily unlucky to see his headed clearance from Jay Rodriguez’s centre cannon off Ramirez and fall straight to Lambert. Now for the fortune. Lambert swivelled and saw his 12-yard strike cannon off the bar and fly to safety.
Moments later, Foster had to be alert as he rushed off his line and smothered Nathaniel Clyne’s through-ball before Ramirez could pounce.
But Albion saw off Saints’ early pressure and surged two-up on the hour-mark.
Long showed great willingness to chase down Liam Ridgewell’s great ball out of defence. The Republic of Ireland striker looked up and picked out Odemwingie with a pinpoint cross and the Nigerian headed his second past a helpless Gazzaniga.
Albion now looked comfortable as the Saints struggled to create an opening.
Southampton sub Guly Do Prado wasted their next half-chance, which didn’t arrive until the 77th minute, when he headed well wide – before Albion almost made it 3-0. From Lukaku’s centre, fellow sub Brunt crashed an acrobatic volley just wide of the far post.
Yoshida was closer with an 89th minute header from Guly’s corner, but man-of-the-match Mulumbu, who was marshalling the post, was able to watch the ball go out for a goal-kick.
In the dying seconds, Foster was called into action one final time when he saved bravely at Adam Lallana's feet. The final whistle signalled the end of a solid night's work for the Baggies.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu; Odemwingie (Fortune 83), Gera, Dorrans (Brunt 67); Long (Lukaku 71). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Popov, Rosenberg, Tamas.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Gazzaniga; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox (Shaw 82); Ramírez (Guly 76), Schneiderlin, S Davis, Lallana (c); Lambert, Rodriguez (Mayuka 76). Subs not used: K Davis (GK), Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Puncheon.
GOALS: ALBION – Odemwingie (36 & 60).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Jones (10).
REFEREE: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).
ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.