West Brom manager Alan Pardew reflected on a “special day but not a special result” after the club paid tribute to their late former striker Cyrille Regis before losing against relegation rivals Southampton.
Regis’ family and former players took part in a ceremony before kick-off, while West Brom’s players wore commemorative shirts and joined the crowd in a minute’s applause to remember Regis, who died last month aged 59.
“It’s a painful one for us,” said Pardew, whose side remains bottom of the Premier League. “It was a shame because it was a special day in a lot of ways but not a special result.
“No matter how much we huffed and puffed we just couldn’t get back into it.”
Despite falling behind early to Ahmed Hegazi’s header, Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton fought back to end a 12-game winless run and move out of the relegation zone.
The Saints deservedly equalised when Mario Lemina smashed a 20-yard strike into the top corner in the 40th minute before Jack Stephens them in front with an excellent looping header from James Ward-Prowse’s corner.
Ward-Prowse added the visitors’ third 10 minutes into the second half by firing in a low free-kick from 20 yards but West Brom pulled a goal back through Salomon Rondon’s header.
The Baggies – who handed Daniel Sturridge a full debut following his loan move from Liverpool – pushed for an equaliser but Southampton held on for a first Premier League win since 26 November.
West Brom remain bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety.
Southampton’s long wait for a victory had seen them fall to 18th despite taking draws in five of their last seven matches.
Pressure had begun to grow on manager Mauricio Pellegrino but victory sees his side climb four places to 14th, two points clear of danger.
“We needed this victory, for many reasons, but most important one is to believe what we can do on the pitch,” Pellegrino said.
The win was a deserved one, with the visitors showing greater composure on the ball, particularly in midfield, and creating the majority of the game’s best chances.
“Southampton looked like they had a little more energy and fresher players in the middle which showed,” Pardew said.
“We had players who had been playing two games in three days and looked a little leggy.”
The Saints’ failure to convert more of the openings could have been costly, but they defended well in the final 15 minutes to deny the Baggies any meaningful chances.
The result is a desperate one for West Brom, who started the game with a three-point gap to 19th place and now see that increase by a further point.
They have now dropped 18 points from winning positions this season and have only won once in 12 league games since Pardew took charge.