Ghana striker Benjamin Tetteh scored a memorable first goal for the club. It was his first home start since one of his best friends, Christian Atsu, died in the Turkey-Syria earthquake in early February.
“He’s had an emotional couple of weeks,” said Liam Rosenior, the boss of the Tigers. “He was very upset by the earthquake in Turkey. Christian Atsu was one of the best friends that Benji had. Since he’s been sad, I’m sure he’ll give that goal to him.”
After halftime, Dara O’Shea scored an own goal to give Hull a 2-0 lead. Albion couldn’t get past home goalkeeper Karl Darlow and lost their fourth league game in a row.
It was also Albion’s fifth straight loss on the road. Their first-choice goalkeeper Alex Palmer and winger Matt Phillips are still out, and Grady Diangana, Brandon Thomas-Asante, and Karlan Grant also missed the game because of injuries.
Home goalie Darlow had to make a number of saves early in the first half before the Tigers scored in the 33rd minute to punish the Baggies for being careless.
Tetteh headed down a long ball from the back, and even though Okay Yukuslu stole the ball from Regan Slater, it went to Tetteh on the left and he turned sharply before firing an angled shot that Albion keeper Josh Griffiths could only touch as it went into the top right corner.
After manager Rosenior chose him over the top scorer Oscar Estupinan, this was a reward for his trust. It was also a reward for Hull’s play, which started to get better about halfway through the first half after Rosenior gave a quick talk to most of his players while the game was stopped because of an injury.
Hull kept getting better in the second half, which let them double their lead at the 57-minute mark.
Griffiths gave up a corner when he blocked Tetteh’s second angled shot. From the left, Ozan Tufan’s inswinging corner was headed into his own goal at the near post by Albion captain O’Shea, who was being pushed by Sean McLoughlin.
Albion had a chance to get back in the game when John Swift’s right-footed free kick hit the inside of the left post and went wide, and Jed Wallace couldn’t score because Darlow made another important save.
But the Tigers were able to keep a clean sheet for the fourth straight game at home. This helped them move up to 13th place, just two places and three points behind Albion. Now, Hull is 14 points ahead of trouble and only nine points away from a play-off spot.
Now, Hull doesn’t play again until next Saturday, March 11, when they go to Coventry City, another team in the Midlands trying to make the play-offs.
Albion will play again before then, on Tuesday, when they host the team at the bottom of the table, Wigan Athletic. Four days later, they will host another struggling team, Huddersfield Town.
Liam Rosenior is the manager of Hull City. He told BBC Radio Humberside:
“We played the team that was second in the league. That’s why I think so much of the players.
“Karl Darlow made some great saves, but he can do that, and it was about time that he did. We’ve been in games where a team hasn’t had a chance to score but then scores on their one chance.
“I just had the feeling that Oscar Estupinan wasn’t as energetic as usual last week, so I made that change. Benji’s goal was a cracker. Left footer in the back row. He’s done it in practice, so I was happy for him when he did it on such a big night.”
Carlos Corberan, who is the manager of West Bromwich Albion, told BBC Radio WM:
“I think the goalie on the other team might have been one of their best players.
“It means you made him work, but what I think made the difference in the game was what happened in the boxes.
“When the first goal was scored, the team was playing well and controlling the game, but it’s also important to be focused on defense at these times.”