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Match Reports

Albion 2 Luton 0

1 February 2020

Albion ended a seven-game winless run to return to the summit of the Sky Bet Championship with a 2-0 victory over Luton Town at The Hawthorns.

Semi Ajayi followed up Donervon Daniels’ own-goal to earn the Baggies their first three-point return on home soil since the beginning of December. 

Slaven Bilić made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Cardiff City on Tuesday with on-loan winger Callum Robinson handed a debut following his move from Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Charlie Austin earned his first start of 2020 after netting from the bench in South Wales, while Semi Ajayi and Conor Townsend returned in Slaven Bilić’s back four. 

Robinson almost netted after just five minutes, stinging the gloves of Simon Sluga from 20 yards following excellent link-up play between Filip Krovinović and Austin on the edge of the Town box.

The 24-year-old former Preston man continued his lively start on 11 when Matty Pearson was forced into a last-ditch tackle after the pacy attacker got in behind the Hatters.

And it was Robinson who forced Albion into a 14th-minute lead.

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His excellent cross from the left for Phillips was turned in by former Albion Academy defender Donervon Daniels on his return to The Hawthorns.

Kazenga LuaLua went close for the visitors midway through the first half, skipping around Phillips on the edge of the area before seeing his fierce right-foot effort flash just inches over the crossbar.

After a lull in proceedings it was Robinson again who brought the game back to life seven minutes before the interval, chasing down Townsend’s quick long throw on the left and testing Sluga with a low left-foot shot from 15 yards.

The Baggies so nearly doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time but for the heroics of Pearson who stepped in to block Austin’s close-range prod from Krovinović’s knockdown.

Robinson almost grabbed a memorable maiden goal just seconds after the restart, cutting in from the left to force a stunning save from Sluga with a curling, right-foot drive from 25 yards.

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu would have levelled for the visitors on 55 but for the heroics of Livermore - who continued his commanding performance in the middle of the park - with a brave block in the box.

Robinson was again left frustrated just after the hour mark when his deflected strike from range struck the apex of crossbar and post before bouncing to Luton safety.

Sluga provided another fine save to keep his side in it five minutes later, parrying wide from Phillips’ missile-like, 20-yard strike - before Sawyers saw a deflected effort whistle wide.

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Not content with their slender lead the Baggies went in pursuit of a second with a barrage of attacks - and with 20 minutes left Bilić’s men put the game to bed.

Phillips displayed great patience on the right, waiting for his moment to cross, and duly delivered an inch-perfect ball to the brow of Ajayi who nodded home his fifth of the season.

Robinson again went close on 78 but flashed just over from 15 yards after taking down Livermore’s exquisite pass.

With 10 left the Hatters almost bagged another for the Baggies when Sluga was forced into a reflex save from Mpanzu’s wayward back-pass.

ALBION: Johnstone; O’Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Livermore, Sawyers; Phillips (Furlong 77), Krovinović (Harper 84), Robinson; Austin (Robson-Kanu 62)

Subs: Bond; Edwards, Hegazi, Tulloch.

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