A bad week off the pitch for West Brom got worse on it as they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Southampton at The Hawthorns.
Boardroom upheaval and hijinx in Spain provided an unwanted distraction ahead of Saturday’s fifth round tie, but the FA Cup had provided West Brom with some salvation this season.
Perhaps a siege mentality could conjure up another much-needed win like the one at Exeter at the start of January? Or the only outstanding performance of the campaign at Anfield against Liverpool last month?
It was not to be. Goals at the beginning of each half from Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic saw Southampton progress to the quarter-finals, despite a superb reply from Salomon Rondon making the final score 2-1.
West Brom’s week began with the sacking of chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman on Tuesday.
That was followed by the club, who are bottom of the Premier League and under threat from relegation, finding itself front and back page news heading into Saturday’s match after allegations that senior players Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill had stolen a taxi during the training camp in Barcelona this week.
Two of the dubbed “taxi four” started against Southampton, with Evans and Barry named in the team, although Evans appeared to have been stripped of the captaincy as Gareth McAuley skippered the side. Back-up goalkeeper Myhill was on the bench but Livermore was out injured.
Evans and Barry both had their names booed by a small section of the home support as the teams were announced just before kick-off. Things did not improve for Evans as West Brom made the worst possible start, falling behind after 11 minutes.
The defender was one of two Albion players to be dragged beneath the ball to the front post at a James Ward-Prowse corner, leaving Hoedt unmarked to volley the ball past Ben Foster from 10 yards out.
It was a huge setback and Southampton assumed total control, without ever really threatening to add to their lead during the first half.
West Brom’s best effort before the break was a 25-yard strike from James McClean which whistled wide.
It got even worse for the hosts when Tadic rounded off a sweeping counter attack by flicking the ball over Foster to double Southampton’s lead after 56 minutes.
Cue more booing from some home fans. However, the mood was soon lifted when Rondon crashed home a volley from the left side of the penalty area from Grzegorz Krychowiak’s ball over the top two minutes later.
It finally sprung West Brom into life and McClean and Matty Phillips both threatened as Alan Pardew’s team pushed for a quick equaliser.
Southampton survived another wave of West Brom attacks with 10 minutes remaining. Ahmed Hegazi hooked an effort against the crossbar following a set-piece and after Saints struggled to clear the ball, Rondon saw a shot headed off the line by Redmond.
Foster kept his team in it by denying Ward-Prowse at the beginning of four minutes of injury time but West Brom were unable to force another goal at the death for a replay.