That's what we've all been waiting for. Depending on who you listen to, pessimist or optimist, this performance from West Brom was just around the corner or something we wouldn't see under Roy Hodgson. I'm an optimist, and despite some of the bad results we've had at home coupled with bad performances, we still could have won those games.
The most recent example of that is Swansea. Albion were pretty poor that day in the snow, yet they still should have won. A blatant penalty was turned down, Peter Odemwingie missed a sitter and Vorm made an incredibly lucky save at the end from Fortune. On Saturday, everything came together.
The atmosphere pre-match was the best it has been at The Hawthorns for some time. Over the past couple of months, there has been an air of inevitability regarding the home performances which has subsequently had an effect on the fans. Not this time around. The players were buzzing around in the warm-up, highlights from the Molineux Massacre on the big screen and the fans a lot more relaxed.
And when 12 year old Emily Badger stepped out onto the Hawthorns pitch to sing The Lord's My Shepherd before kick off, and the singing of the Albion Anthem after she left, it felt like it was going to be a good day. And Albion got off to the perfect start, grabbing a goal after just 3 minutes of action. A good attack on the left broke down, but Keith Andrews won the ball back, an example of The Baggies pressing game. He laid it back to Jerome Thomas who gave the ball to Youssuff Mulumbu, who crossed the ball into the box for Peter Odemwingie to glance the ball into the net. The Nigerian is clearly a confidence player and two loud ovations from the crowd before the game certainly seemed to give him a boost, though I doubted he needed one after his Hat Trick against Wolves.
Albion continued to harry the Sunderland line-up, Mulumbu superb in breaking up play. Few real chances were created though Albion did play some very nice football. The difference Keith Andrews has made was noticeable immediately, he came and took the ball from the centre halves and brought if forward, and was always creating an angle for a pass, a link that Albion have been missing. West Brom created the next chance from a Steven Reid free kick, Mignolet plucking an Olsson header out of the air. The Belgian was in action again soon after, saving a left-footed strike from James Morrison after Fortune back-heeled into his path.
It was the Scot who grabbed the 2nd goal of the game just before the half-time interval. Ben Foster pinged a pass out to Liam Ridgewell on the left-hand touchline, he gave the ball forward to Jerome Thomas. Ridgewell took the ball back on and was taken out by Bardsley but the ref waved advantage, Thomas getting the ball and crossing for Morrison to head into the net.
West Brom came out in the 2nd half to face a Sunderland side changed by Martin O'Neill at half-time, as he introduced Frazier Campbell and Nicklas Bendtner. But these attacking changes left Sunderland woefully exposed at the back and The Baggies took advantage almost immediately. Foster again initiated the move, sending Morrison away with a throw. The impressive midfielder put the ball into Fortune whose cut back avoided Morrison only for the on-rushing Odemwingie to blast the ball in from the edge of box, taking a slight deflection on the way through.
The game then became more akin to a basketball match, rushing from end to end though Sunderland were restricted to mainly long range efforts from Craig Gardner, of which only one truly tested Foster due to its movement in the air. Albion came closest to scoring in this spell of play, Thomas jinking past Bardsley before sending a magnificent curling effort back off against the crossbar.
Thomas had to go off soon after with a hamstring injury, which hopefully won't rule him out for too long as he was fantastic yesterday, and is Albion's main outlet going forward. However, there is some good news as Chris Brunt will return to training this week and could be available for next week, meaning a ready-made replacement should Thomas not be fit.
West Brom added a fourth late on, O'Shea was forced into a back pass after more pressure from Morrison. Sub Shane Long intercepted, knocking back to Morrison who had his shot saved. Albion kept the ball moving in the corner, working the ball to Graham Dorrans on the edge of the box. He played a neat pass into Andrews who rifled his shot into the top corner. The Irish Midfielder was immediately warmed to by Albion fans after his goal against our local rivals, should his performances continue like they are I see him becoming a firm favourite.
Post-match Roy Hodgson talked about looking up the table and not answering "negative" questions about relegation. Despite being an optimist, I'd like one more win before I start talking about relegation no longer being a threat, but if performances stay like that I can't see that it'll be too long a wait.