Baggies beaten by first-half Clasie goal
- Frustration for Albion as Saints hold on
- First-half strike settles it
- Rondon, Chadli, Dawson and Evans close to equaliser
- Attendance: 24,697
- Albion Star Man: James Morrison
ALBION fell to a 1-0 home defeat by Southampton despite two late Fraser Forster saves.
In a first-half the visitors edged, Albion fell behind after 25 minutes to a fierce drive from Clasie who gave Ben Foster no chance from the edge of the area.
The Baggies had Matt Phillips making his first start since February and he had the best of his team’s early opportunities but couldn’t keep down his left-foot effort from inside the box with the Saints defence spread-eagled.
But the best chance of the first-half resulted in more frustration for Salomon Rondon when his close-range header from a Nacer Chadli cross was palmed away by Fraser Forster.
Albion, though, were grateful to a miss from Long just before the break when he headed a Nathan Redmond cross wide when he looked odds-on to score.
Albion made an early second half switch with Chris Brunt replacing Gareth McAuley in back-four reshuffle but in temperatures reminiscent of mid-summer’s day, it was hard toil for further chances.
Head Coach Tony Pulis went on to replace Phillips and skipper Darren Fletcher with James McClean and Hal Robson-Kanu in an effort to find a spark.
It began to work but the frustration kept coming for Albion with Chadli powering one good opening straight at Forster and Robson-Kanu just unable to keep down another short-range snap chance.
Craig Dawson almost earned the Baggies a point but saw his late volley parried by Forster.
Moments later Evans again tested the England keeper who palmed away a header from Chadli’s corner to quash any hopes of a last-gasp equaliser.
ALBION: Foster; Dawson, McAuley (Brunt 52), Evans, Nyom; Chadli, Fletcher (Robson-Kanu 66), Livermore, Morrison, Phillips (McClean 62); Rondon.
Subs: Myhill; Yacob, Wilson, Field.
Booked: Evans (foul, 36); Phillips (foul, 48);
SAINTS: Forster; Soares, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand, Ward-Prowse (McQueen 71), Hojbjerg, Clasie (Reed 85), Tadic, Redmond (Sims 71), Long.
Booked: Soares (holding, 76)
Subs: Hassen, Rodriguez, Cacers, Pied.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire)