Darren Moore stops the rot at West Brom but relegation still looks likely
Moore’s first game in charge of the Baggies ends in a draw.
Darren Moore successfully ended the eight-game losing streak bequeathed to him by West Brom predecessor Alan Pardew, but a 1-1 draw with Swansea appeared to represent another nail in the club’s Premier League coffin.
For the 21 minutes between Jay Rodriguez’s poached opener and Tammy Abraham’s headed equaliser it seemed Moore might be on course for a fairytale start to life in the Hawthorns dugout.
Rodriguez’s point-blank finish early in the second half got the home fans singing, slowly erasing the worst memories of Pardew’s ill-fated reign, but the bonhomie was punctured when Jake Livermore allowed Abraham to climb above him and nod in Sam Clucas’ corner.
The Baggies have one foot in the Championship, 11 points adrift with five to play, and may yet be joined by their opponents who can consider themselves lucky to leave with anything after a deeply unimpressive outing.
The first half was a moribund affair, understandably short of flair given the league placings of the respective sides but also lacking urgency.
With a few minor exceptions the attacks were scrappy, the dribbles awkward and the ambition limited.
It might have been different had Rodriguez’s early decision to attempt an overhead kick led to something more spectacular than a scuffed connection and a goal kick, but regulars at the Hawthorns this season have learned to lower their expectations accordingly.
Baggies captain Chris Brunt showed an impressive willingness to unpick a Swansea defence led solidly by Federico Fernandez, chipping balls into the channels with both sides of his boot, but the first real chances did not arrive until shortly before the break.
Swansea, compact but curiously reticent, should have broken the deadlock in the 40th minute after Clucas and Abraham combined to part West Brom’s centre-halves.
It fell to Andre Ayew to apply the finishing touch but he poked at the chance and sent it skipping wide of the post.
Seconds before the whistle the hosts produced their best effort to date, Craig Dawson nodding down Brunt’s free-kick and Rodriguez stinging Lukasz Fabianski’s palms with a rasping shot.
The 28-year-old went one better 10 minutes after the restart, sniping from point-blank range to give Albion the lead.
After a goalmouth scramble Matt Phillips provided a much-needed moment of calm, taking a soft touch to control the ball then bending a measured cross from the left wing.
Salomon Rondon rose to flick it across goal and Rodriguez stole a march of Kyle Bartley, on for the injured Mike van der Hoon, to prod home.
Rodriguez gave a tell-tale double take in the linesman’s direction but led the celebrations as soon as he saw the flag would not be raised against him.
Rodriguez and James McClean seemed eager to add a second, haring into space and leading the counter-attack whenever Swansea pressed forward.
Nathan Dyer’s arrival off the away bench changed the dynamic, the winger’s pace pushing West Brom back on their heels and encouraging them to surrender sit deep.
The leveller came from a corner on his side, Clucas standing the ball up and Abraham easily beating Livermore to power his header into the top corner.